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How Contractors Can Ensure Safe Digging and Excavation Work When Digging Trenches

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Any excavation work requires a planned approach since damage to underground infrastructure can be costly, and any accidents from unsafe digging practices could be potentially fatal. When you consider the weight of  just one cubic foot of soil weighs around 45.4 kilos, the possibly of escape after a collapse is extremely unlikely.  

To avoid damaging infrastructure and to protect the health and safety of excavation contractors, below are ways to ensure excavation contractors can work safety in and around trenches. 

What to Do Before Excavation

Whether for a backyard pool, new drain lines, or any other landscaping project around the home, it's essential that any excavation projects are planned in safe and stable soils and away from infrastructure. There are various free services that provide detailed information about the exact location of any underground infrastructure to avoid any contact with electricity and plumbing networks, and to ensure the right approach is taken.  

Ways to Ensure Safe Digging

Fortunately there are some guaranteed ways that construction workers and those operating excavation machinery can ensure safe digging. These include:

  • Park heavy machinery including bobcats as far away from the trenches as possible.
  • Ensure soil and other material excavated is kept at least a half metre away from the side of the trench or excavated area. Where this is not possible, soil should be relocated to a different area until the project is completed.
  • Before work begins each day, inspect trenches for any signs of movement or changes to soil that may have been caused from storm or other weather activity. An on-site contractor with the qualifications and safety training to identify specific excavation hazards should perform this inspection.
  • Use excavation protection methods to prevent collapses. These include sloping systems to divert soil away from the trench, cutting horizontal steps into the side of the trench system, using safety barriers and ensuring there are entrances in and out of the trench including ladders and ramps.
  • Never work below suspended loads of soil held in the bucket of an excavator or bobcat. 
  • Ensure ongoing safety training of workers when performing excavation work and trench digging. This includes wearing of relevant personal protective equipment and high visibility clothing.

Finally, before any excavation work is carried out, a thorough assessment of the soil properties, presence of groundwater, fractures or faults in rocks and any other site risks should be performed. Site risks and potential hazards can include access to the trench, nearby buildings and slopes of the land. An excavation safety office must perform these initial checks as well as obtaining details of any underground infrastructure.

A trench has the potential to become an early grave, and because of the sobering statistics of excavation accidents, its essential the right plan is in place, safe digging practices are always adhered to. For more information, consult companies like C. Fulton Pty Ltd.