As a construction worker, there may come a time when you are part of a trenching and excavation project. While this sounds simple enough, this is one of the most hazardous operations in the construction industry.
A trench is nothing more than an underground excavation that is no wider than 15 feet, and deeper than it is wide.
If you find yourself tackling a trenching and excavation project, there are several safety tips you must follow at all times:
- Be aware of the potential for cave-ins, as this is the most serious threat.
- In addition to cave-ins, other hazards can include incidents involving tools and vehicles, falling loads, and slip and falls.
- Protect yourself. There is never a good time to do work in an unprotected trench.
- Make sure there is a protective system in place. For example, sloping is used to cut back the wall of the trench to avoid a cave-in.
- Inspect trenches every day.
Along with the above, here are some basic guidelines that will help you make better decisions when working in or around a trench:
- Keep loads a minimum of two feet away from edges
- Don’t move heavy equipment close to edges
- Regularly test for toxic gases and low oxygen
- Have a clear idea of where underground utilities are located
- Never work beneath a raised load
- Inspect trenches if there are any changes in the area, such as a recent rainstorm
Despite the dangers, there are times when construction workers have no choice but to work in a trench. Fortunately, with the right approach to safety, it’s possible to do so without much risk of something going wrong.
If you are part of a trench or excavation accident, your health should be the only thing on your mind. You’ll need to receive immediate medical attention, as well as advice on how to make a recovery.
Since this type of accident could keep you out of work, you’ll also want to learn more about your legal rights pertaining to the workers’ compensation system.