Working in a trench is dangerous. So many risks are involved, from injuries caused by slips and trips to fatalities caused by trench collapses. But, without any safety measures, the risks are even greater. That’s why construction workers must be aware of the hazards and take precautions to stay safe.
In this article, we will discuss ten trenching safety tips that construction workers should always keep in mind when working in a trench. That way, you can stay safe while digging.
10 Trenching Safety Tips
While dangerous, trenching is an important part of any construction project. It involves digging and removing dirt, forming a narrow depression into the ground, which is then utilized for various purposes. Trenching and excavation are two of the most common activities associated with construction work. They’re used for various civil and engineering projects, including installing telephone wires and laying underground pipes.
However, as with anything in the construction industry, trenching can also be dangerous and sometimes even fatal. That’s why it’s crucial to practice proper trenching practices to improve overall safety on the worksite.
With that said, here are ten essential trenching safety tips that your construction team should follow:
Install Protective Systems
Protective systems should be installed prior to digging in order to prevent collapse and protect workers. Several types of protective systems exist, including sloping, benching, and shoring. Each of these protective systems is designed to provide a different level of protection, so it’s important to choose the right one for the job. In addition, always make sure that the protective system is installed correctly and meets all safety standards.
Use the Right Equipment
Another important safety tip is to use the right equipment for the job. This includes using the right type of excavator and digging tools. For example, if you’re digging in loose soil, you’ll need a different type of excavator than if you were digging in hard rock. In addition, it’s also important to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and that any damaged equipment is repaired or replaced before it’s used.
Inspect the Trench Daily
Inspect the trench daily before work begins to identify potential hazards. A simple daily inspection can prevent a minor hazard from becoming a major safety issue. When inspecting the trench, pay attention to things like the depth of the trench, the width of the trench, the type of soil, and any potential obstacles. If any hazards are found or minor issues that can escalate over time, make sure to resolve them right away.
Plan for Emergencies
In every construction project, it’s always important to plan for potential emergencies. This is especially true for trenching projects, as there is always the potential for a collapse. In the event of a collapse, it’s important to have a plan in place to rescue anyone who may be trapped. This plan should include things like having the right equipment on hand, knowing how to use it, and having a list of emergency contacts.
Educate Workers on Trenching Hazards
One of the best ways to stay safe while trenching is to educate workers on the potential hazards. This education should include things like the risks of trench collapse, as well as how to prevent it. In addition, workers should also be taught how to use trenching equipment properly and how to safely enter and exit a trench.
Before sending construction workers to the worksite:
- Make sure they undergo proper orientation and training.
- Review with them the hazards they may face while working and how to avoid or mitigate risks.
- Train them on how to deal with emergencies should they occur.
Conduct Atmospheric Testing
Atmospheric testing is necessary, especially when a trench or excavation goes deeper than four feet and a suspected hazardous atmosphere is present in the work area. A qualified person should conduct this test to ensure that the air in the trench is safe to breathe. If the atmospheric test results show that the air is unsafe, workers should not enter the trench until it has been made safe.
Keep the Trench Clear
It’s important to keep the trench clear of debris, as this can create a hazard. Debris can fall into the trench and hit workers or prop up equipment. In addition, debris can also block the ventilation system and create hazardous conditions. When working on a trench, clear the area before starting work and keep it clear throughout the project.
Follow OSHA Guidelines
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of guidelines that must be followed when trenching. These guidelines cover things like the depth of the trench, the width of the trench, the type of soil, and any potential hazards. If you’re unsure about anything, consult with OSHA or a safety professional.
There are also a ton of resources available online regarding OSHA’s trenching safety guidelines. Make sure to do your own research and find as much information as you can about it. Here are some sample lines of OSHA’s trench and excavation safety guidelines:
- Never enter an unprotected trench
- Unless they are made of stable rock, trenches deeper than five feet need to have a protective system in place
- Avoid placing excavated soil material within two feet of the trench’s edge.
- Always wear proper safety equipment.
- Use a checklist when conducting safety inspections.
Monitor Weather Conditions
Weather conditions can play a big role in trenching safety. For example, heavy rains can cause the trench to collapse, while high winds can knock over equipment. Therefore, make sure to monitor the weather conditions during a trenching project and take precautions when necessary.
Assign a Competent Person
Finally, OSHA also requires that you assign a qualified person to inspect, design, and supervise the trench. This person should be a licensed professional engineer trained in:
- Identifying possible and current hazards.
- Hazardous working conditions for employees
- Eliminating dangers effectively.
The success of trench safety relies on this person’s knowledge, experience, and expertise in trenching safety.
DATAMYTE is Perfect for Trenching Safety!
DATAMYTE’s solutions are perfect for managing trenching safety. From our automated data collection devices to our software platforms, we can help you manage every aspect of safety. Our solutions are used by some of the biggest names in the construction industry and are trusted by safety professionals worldwide.
The DataMyte Digital Clipboard, in particular, lets you create a comprehensive workflow for your trenching safety procedures. With this tool, you can:
- Conduct inspections with ease
- Create checklists and other smart forms for inspection purposes
- Monitor and record the condition of the trench in real-time
- Assign tasks to your workers.
- Track progress and ensure trenching safety standards are met.
- Gather relevant data and generate reports in real-time
If you’re looking for a way to improve trenching safety at your construction site, contact DATAMYTE today! We’ll be happy to help you find the perfect solution for your needs.
These are just a few of the many trenching safety tips you should follow. Following these ten trenching safety tips can help keep your workers safe and avoid potential accidents. Remember, trenching is a dangerous job, but by taking the proper precautions and implementing them using the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you can help make it a little bit safer. Thanks for reading!