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Staying Safe During Excavation and Trenching

Trenching and excavation are two of the most dangerous operations in the construction industry. Cave-ins are the biggest liability, and are the most likely excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Falling loads, dangerous atmospheres, accidents involving mobile equipment, and falls, are just a few of the other risks that come with these jobs. Continue reading as we discuss several different ways in which you can practice excavation safety and avoid such casualties.

Protective Systems

You should never enter an unprotected trench. Unless the excavation is constructed completely inside stable rock, trenches that are five feet deep or more must have a protective system. If the trench is 20 feet or deeper, the protective system must be constructed based on data that’s been approved and/or designed by a registered professional engineer.

Protective systems are designed to protect workers, civilians, and the trench itself. Three types of protective systems include:

  • Shielding- This type of system uses trench boxes or other supports to protect workers from soil cave-ins
  • Sloping- In this system, the trench wall is cut back at an angle that is inclined away from the excavation
  • Shoring- This system requires the installation of aluminum hydraulic or other supports in order to avoid soil movement and cave-ins

Designing these protective systems can be complicated because of how many factors there are to be considered, such as water content of soil, climate or weather changes, soil classification, surcharge loads, depth of cut, other operations that are occurring nearby, and more.

OSHA Requirements

OSHA requires that trenches be inspected by a competent person before workers enter the trench each day and as conditions fluctuate. OSHA defines a competent person as someone who is able to identify any predictable or existing hazards or working conditions that are dangerous or unsanitary to employees.

A competent person is authorized to take certain corrective measures that will control or eliminate such conditions. OSHA also demands that all access points to trench excavations of four feet or deeper; such as steps, ramps, ladders, and other exits, are all egress and safe. 

At Stan’s Marsh & Excavator Service, we take great pride in excavation safety and making sure that we follow all precautionary measures when trenching and excavating. Sleep better at night knowing that your next excavation project is handled by the certified professionals at Stan’s. Contact us today to request a quote!

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