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Important trenching and excavation safety tips

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.


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