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10 Trenching and Excavation Safety Tips

Posted 7/10/2015 by Aspen Rent-All.
Filed under: Construction Tips

One of the more hazardous construction operations or projects is trenching and excavation. In the United Stats along, there are two deaths every month as a result of collapsed trenches. So, trenching and excavation safety is a vital thing to consider for employers, foreman, and project managers. We want to help you keep your job sites up to OSHA standards, protect your companies from accidents, and give you tips to keep workers and employees safe.

RELATED: Earthmoving Equipment at Aspen Rent All.

Before we pass along safety tips to follow before your next excavation or trenching project, we wanted to clearly define each term in order to clarify what we’re talking about. By definition, an excavation is any cavity, trench, or man-made depression in the earth created by earthmoving equipment. And, a narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground is the definition of a trench. In general, the depth is greater than the width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 feet (4.6 meters).

RELATED: 4 Types of Protective Systems for Trenching & Excavation Safety

The most dangerous aspect of trenching and excavation is the possibility of cave-ins because they are more common than any other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities or injuries. Because one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, unprotected trenches are very hazardous. 

Here are 10 Trenching and Excavation Safety Tips:

  1. Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  2. Identify other sources that might affect trench stability.
  3. Keep excavated soil (spoils) and other materials at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  4. Know where underground utilities are located before digging.
  5. Test for atmospheric hazards such as low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases when > 4 feet deep.
  6. Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  7. Inspect trenches following a rainstorm or other water intrusion.
  8. Do not work under suspended or raised loads and materials.
  9. Inspect trenches after any occurrence that could have changed conditions in the trench.
  10. Ensure that personnel wear high visibility or other suitable clothing when exposed to vehicular traffic.

CLICK HERE for a helpful Trenching & Excavation Checklist provided by the University of Maine. This is a great resource to keep on-hand during construction operations. 

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