Strategies To Stay Safe During Trenching And Excavation Work

Trenching and excavation work is among the most hazardous in construction with cave-ins posing not only the greatest risk but the highest rates of fatality from this kind of operation. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car and is capable of quickly crushing anyone who is working or present in a trench. Adequate protections must be in place to ensure the work area is hazard-free when performing excavation or trench work. Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure a safe operation:

  • Make sure there is a safe way to enter and exit the trench or excavation, such as a ladder, steps or a ramp.
  • Have the trench/excavation properly inspected by a competent person prior to anyone entering the area so that any safety issues can be addressed beforehand.
  • Do not work in a trench or excavation that does not have proper cave-in protection. Trenching and excavations must be sloped, shored and shielded to prevent cave-ins.
  • Safeguard against work equipment and other materials such as rocks and soil from falling into trenches/excavations by making sure that all materials are cleared from the edge of the trench.
  • Be especially aware of hazardous vapors or gasses that may be present as these can become concentrated and exponentially harmful in an enclosed area. Have the work area checked by a competent person prior to any worker entering the space to ensure the air quality is safe.