Trenching and Excavation Safe Work Practices

June 16, 2017


Unenlightened observers can picture a trench as it is excavated. The imaginative individual similarly envisions mine shafts cutting through hard underground rocks and tonnes of soft soil. However, those considered musings tend to miss prosaic engineering features. In plain speak, real trenches and excavation projects require safe work practices as a figurative support mechanism. In literal terms, we're referring to trench bracing and other extractive safety requirements.

Trench-Savvy Safe Work Practices

No one can be forced to work in a trench if the work conditions aren't declared work-safe by a competent person. Down in the carved out work channel, tall walls are rising near vertically. The weight of the ground is pushing forward, and the exposed space is seeking to accommodate that material drive. The only way to ensure the land depression keeps its intended outlines is to shore it with trench shields. Alternatively, those vertical trench borders should be sloped so that no cave-ins can take place.

Inverting Excavation Awareness

Attention is placed on the height of the trench, the width of the ground cavity, and the man-made objects that occupy the bottom of the excavated trench. Of equal if not greater importance, the characteristics of the ground around the depression require some assessment. The soil type, any mineral matter, water seepage, or other collapse-contributory factors need documentation. Even if the soil passes muster, a change of weather will quickly turn those carefully measured results on their head. In other words, falling rain is a flood risk and a ground transformer, an element that is capable of turning a root-fortified site into a slick, muddy mire.

Establishing Personal Measures

Soil mechanics is one thing, but then there's the matter of personal safety. A safety system begins with hard hats and steel-capped boots. Beyond that provision, a training program accomplishes more than any ten worker tips. The safety training teaches extractive technicians to beware of fumes and low oxygen indicators. The handling, or non-handling, of existing utility lines is incorporated into that training module, as is the need for continual site inspection.

Arguably, trenching and excavation safe work practices start before the work team climbs down into the narrowly excavated land depression. The temporary spill, wall slopes, and site bracing receive inspection up here. Then, when inside the trench, employee training takes over. Safety aids are worn, employee communications protocols are initiated, and a wary eye is turned towards the weather and the soil conditions.

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