How to Perform Excavation Safely

Eugene Vargas

If you are planning on excavating or trenching, you need to be sure it is done safely. Whether it is something that is your responsibility or you are managing employees doing excavation, be sure everyone follows these important safety precautions.

Inspect the Site Before Beginning

Each and every day, make sure you or a foreman on the job site is inspecting the excavation area before any workers enter. While this is more important following a storm from the previous night, it is important to do regardless of the weather conditions. This ensures that there are no mishaps you were not expecting, such as the trenching ladders you created being faulty, or unexpected collapses. It should only take a few minutes of your time and can prevent some serious injuries on the work site.

Work to Prevent Collapses

One of the main issues with excavations and trenches is that there is a risk of collapse. These are sometimes not suspected, even after inspecting the area. You should have some systems in place that help to prevent them. Sloping is a good system, as it creates an angled wall in the excavation site that keeps a full collapse from occurring. You can also try building steps in the sides of the trench with a benching method, or using supports above the trench. You also need to have safe ways for workers to get in and out of the trenches, such as ramps or ladders.

Know the Signs of a Trench Collapse

Even after taking these measures, trenches can still collapse. You should make sure all of your employees on the construction site know the signs of collapses, even workers that don't do excavations. If a laborer is walking by a trench and notices one of the common signs, they can alert the others and make sure all contractors are out of the way. Some of the more common signs include trench walls that are starting to bulge, bubbling on the floor, or sagging and cracking along the walls of the trench. Not only should they know the signs, but proper safety measures to get out of the trenches and away from the area as quickly as possible.

Provide Safety Gear and Equipment

Also make sure all of your workers that do excavations wear the right safety gear. They should have sturdy boots, hard hats, and gloves. For proper safety, workers should also have goggles and face masks when working in the trenches. There is a lot of loose dirt and debris, and this will fully protect them. For deeper trenches, workers may also need to be harnessed.

Complete a Job Site Hazard Analysis

A safety hazard analysis+ can be performed on the construction site to look for potential hazards, including safety risks involved with the excavation and trench digging. A licensed contractor that specializes in job site analysis for hazards in the workplace will perform the tests and inspections. They will inform you if there is anything more you can do to improve the excavation site safety.