5 Tips for Excavating Trenches Safely and Efficiently

5 tips for excavating trenches safely and efficiently

Trenching involves digging up earth and removing dirt to form a narrow depression in the ground that can be used for various purposes. This kind of activity is a necessary part of many construction projects.

Whether you require a trench to install pipes for water or gas, cables for electricity or telecommunications, or you need to create caissons for retaining walls, excavating trenches is an essential factor. There are various approaches to making such trenches, and different tools can be used for this purpose. These methods vary based on the type and size of the trench.

Although trenching is incredibly common in the construction industry, it is quite dangerous and potentially hazardous. In fact, trenching is one of the riskiest types of construction jobs and can even be fatal.

For this reason, engaging in safe practices and paying extra attention to maintaining worksite safety during trenching is crucial.

The Best Ways to Practice Safe Trench Excavation

Although there are several hazards that can come with trenching, taking measures to avoid them can help minimize the chances of accidents.

Fortunately, there are various safety measures that you can implement on job sites where trenching is occurring to keep yourself and other workers safe. The following are the most effective safety procedures related to the excavation of trenches:

1. Installing protective systems

One of the most significant risks of trenching is a cave-in, as this accident can lead to serious injuries and can even be fatal.

One way to protect workers from cave-ins is to use a protective system at a trenching site, especially if a trench is deeper than 5 feet, and to use a protective system designed by a professional engineer if the trench is deeper than 20 feet. There are a few different types of protective systems for this purpose.

One example is sloping and benching, which involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle to form a slope and creating steps that go up the earthen wall. Shoring is another great approach, which involves the installation of a support system made of timber or mechanical parts to help keep the earth in place.

A trench shield could also be used. This is a structure that has sidewalls that can vary in thickness and steel or aluminum spreaders that hold these walls apart.

2. Use alternative excavation methods

Trenching is just one of multiple approaches to excavation. Since it is one of the most dangerous excavation methods, it is wise to opt for alternatives whenever possible to avoid the risks.

For instance, depending on the job, you may be able to use directional boring, which involves digging into the ground at an angle with a boring machine. You could also try pipe ramming, which requires hammering a pipe into the ground with a percussive instrument.

Another trenching alternative is utility tunneling. This is similar to pipe ramming but includes the use of linear plates and requires that you enter the borehole to form a tunnel by hand or with a boring machine.

3. Frequently inspect your trenches

It is vital to have an expert in safety measures, precautions, and regulations inspect your trenches regularly. These inspections should take place before anyone starts the work. Particular attention should be given to any signs of a cave-in or risk of collapse.

Further inspections can take place throughout the work day and should especially be conducted if any natural events like a rainstorm (or something similar) take place. If any unsafe conditions are detected, all workers must evacuate the area until safety precautions are adequately met.

4. Always locate all utility lines on site before digging

Before excavating the land to form a trench, it is essential to contact local utility companies so they can mark all the utility lines on the work site. If you fail to locate utility lines near your dig site, they can pose a major risk to you and other workers.

Accidentally striking an electrical, water, or sewer line could lead to severe injuries, and striking a gas line could result in a dangerous gas leak. If all of these lines are clearly marked, you can easily avoid them, potential hazards, and paying unnecessary fines.

5. Conduct atmospheric testing

If you suspect your trenching site to have a hazardous atmosphere, or if you must excavate deeper than four feet, it is necessary to conduct atmospheric testing. Such testing will ensure that oxygen deficiency is not an issue and that dangerous gasses, such as methane and carbon dioxide, are not present.

If a dangerous atmosphere is detected and workers are already on the site, emergency rescue equipment should be used, including a breathing apparatus and a basket stretcher.

How Great West Equipment Can Help You Practice Safer Trenching

Another way to avoid unnecessary hazards during excavation work is to use reliable excavation equipment. One of the best ways to ensure this is by looking at excavator rental options from a reputable provider, such as Great West Equipment. Our extensive lineup of excavators for rent is top quality and regularly maintained by equipment experts to ensure they remain in tip-top shape.

If you require an excavator rental for an upcoming construction project, we can provide the perfect excavator that will not only keep your workers safer but will also give you the power and productivity for optimal work.

We have a wide range of rental options that cater to various budgets, so we can arrange something to meet your needs. All of our excavators for rent are manufactured by superior industry brands, and we make our rental ordering system fast and easy so you can get the equipment to your job site quickly.

For more information about excavator rental options or to learn more about the wide assortment of other heavy equipment we have available for rent, call Great West Equipment at 1-833-730-0613 or contact us here.

0 Comment
Share us On: