Trenching & Excavation (Excavation & Trenching)

A construction worker inside a trench with protective shielding spreading rock with a shovel

Make sure shields are designed by a registered professional engineer and are in good condition prior to use.

Courtesy of OSHA.

Did you know that cave-ins are the most feared hazard workers face while working inside an excavation 4 feet or more in depth? Even though this is the most recognize hazard, there are other hazards that you need to be aware of:

  • Confined space.
  • Drowning.
  • Electrocutions and explosions (contact with overhead and underground utilities).
  • Proper access/egress.
  • Toxic fumes.
  • Working with or near heavy machinery.

Prevention methods such as using adequate shielding and shoring systems, or sloping. Benching can provide protection to workers while working inside excavations.

In addition to selecting and installing adequate cave-in protection, employers must designate a competent person who is able to recognize hazards, has the authority to stop work until hazards are corrected, and conduct inspection prior to start of the job.

Other methods like implementing a written safety and health accident prevention program (APP) with excavation policies, training, providing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), having utilities located and marked, inspecting equipment and machinery, and providing safe access and egress can also ensure workers are protected.

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