Don’t Start Diggin A Trench Unless You Have Done This

Would it surprise you to know that in the first three months of 2018, seven construction workers have died in work-related accidents in Australia? Would it also surprise you to know that two of these deaths occurred in the same accident when a trench they were working in collapsed? While investigations are continuing, what is known is that the trench was 3.2 metres deep and was being constructed at a subdivision site to carry sewer and drainage pipes.

Trenching is Dangerous Work

Trench work is always dangerous with hazards common and well-known, so no judgements should be made until the official investigation is completed. However, there is a wealth of material to guide persons in control of a work site on the methods needed to ensure the safety of workers at the site, as well as members of the public.

This is something we are always mindful of when we are doing excavations and trenching. Dee Gees Bobcats have been in business for well over 20 years, with quality of workmanship sitting alongside safety as two of our key company values.

Planning Should Involve Everyone on Site

Digging a trench safely and effectively starts with planning. Because we do much of our work as a sub-contractor to a larger company, consultation with all key parties is critical. Besides our company, the principal contractor will consult with other sub-contractors, mobile plant operators, workers and safety personnel, as well as structural and possibly geotechnical engineers.

Scheduling and Co-ordinating the Next Step

Scheduling and co-ordinating the work is next, and if the trench depth is to be 1.5 metres or more, the work may be deemed high-risk construction work, requiring a Safe Work Method Statement to be developed. If the work is not classed as high-risk, that is, the trench will be less than 1.5 metres deep, a risk assessment should be done to identify the hazards present.

Risk Assessments Needed to Develop Control Measures

Control measures to manage these hazards are then developed, which should include the potential injuries from a trench collapse, the nature of the excavation, the soil type, the proposed safe methods to do the work and the means of entry and exit to the excavation. Checks are also made to locate any underground essential services such as water or gas lines, as well as communications cabling.

The Last Steps before Digging Starts

Next, the actual siting and setting up of the workplace is done, followed by giving safety instructions on how to work in the trench. Note that during this preparation phase, no actual trench digging has started. If these procedures are followed, accidents like those mentioned earlier are very unlikely, and that is just the way we like it.

Risk Management Prevents Accidents At Excavations

Workplace Health and Safety legislation is now so much a part of daily life in Australia, that ordinary people often do not notice the common signs of hazard identification when they pass it in the street. When properly addressed, hazards can be managed to enable work to proceed as needed, without endangering workers or the general public.

Take for example, workers replacing old roofing iron, which is a common practice in Queensland as thousands of pre1970s dwellings age. Where once you might have seen them walking across the roof without anything in place to prevent an accidental fall, now there is edge protection around the entire perimeter, and observers take it for granted.

Safety Code of Practice Covers Excavations

The same is true of excavations of all sizes. Underground cable pits are always enclosed with temporary fencing, and warning signs erected, before any work begins. Large construction sites are always fenced off and permits required for entry, especially when foundations are being excavated.

At DeeGees Bobcats, being able to manage the risks around excavations are essential to our business. We specialise in drainage, trenching, swimming pool and under house excavations, so knowing what is required by legislation and how to protect our staff and customers is part of what we do.

Some Common Risks

Depending on the type and depth of the excavation, there is a range of issues that need to be addressed. Common risks are someone falling into the excavation, or being trapped by a cave-in, someone working in the excavation being struck by a falling object or being exposed to an airborne contaminant.

Control Measures include Underground Services

One issue important to us is that we are informed by the person in control of the work of any underground services that could be affected by our excavation machinery. This prevents incidents such as water and power being accidentally cut to surrounding properties.

Fencing and Signs Essential

At every excavation we perform, we ensure that the area is fenced to prevent unauthorised access, and that the appropriate signage is placed to alert everyone to the hazard. This includes other workers on the site, the property owners and anyone else who may attempt to gain access.

Plant Operation and Maintenance

We must also ensure that the type of equipment we use is suitable for the purpose, and that our plant is operated only by a competent person. We must have the appropriate guards and operator protective devices fitted and that we maintain our items of plant in accordance with Australian Standards.

We take the safety of our excavations very seriously and complying with all the relevant regulations is part of the way we conduct our business. There is no trick to it, just sound risk management.

Digging a Hole Is More Complicated Than You Think

Australia has just sweltered through its hottest summer since records began, and those property owners who have the space are already thinking about using the coming winter months to put in a pool. Are you an owner who cannot bear another summer without being able to cool off a few steps from your back door? If so, you may already be thinking about it and wondering just what happens when people and machines start tearing up your back yard.

Pool Excavations a Breeze in the Hands of Experts

Well, wonder no more and fear not. People install pools every day and in the hands of experienced and professional operators, the result will be an oasis where you can relax with family and friends, entertain and keep the children occupied during the next long, hot summer.

Building a pool starts with the design, then with a signed contract in place it proceeds to engineering input then council approvals. Once these are given and the site is secured with temporary fencing, excavation starts followed by plumbing, electrical, concreting, tiling, final inspections and filling the pool.

People Get Nervous when the Machines Move In

Dee Gees Bobcats have been excavating for pools for the last 23 years, and we have found that the process that bothers people the most is the actual excavation. They worry that the machinery may damage building foundations or drainage and water pipes but these issues are all addressed in the initial stages.

Excavation Work Code of Practice Sets the Standard

All our excavation work is performed to the standards required by the Excavation Work Code of Practice, approved under Section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Excavation work can be dangerous and a collapse can happen very quickly, endangering the lives of not only workers but also anyone close enough to be affected.

Hazard Identification is Site Specific

We identify any hazards before starting work, and put in place any control measures that are necessary. Typical hazards in excavations are earth or rock falls, inappropriate placement of excavated materials, hazardous manual tasks, and the presence of overhead power lines. This is not an exhaustive list, as every site must be individually assessed.

Getting on with the Job

Once we have the safety aspects covered, we get on with the job, with our experienced operators quickly carving out the soil and dropping it into trucks for disposal. We have already considered site conditions such as sloping land, different soil types, local weather conditions and the length of time we expect the excavation to be open.

Looking Forward to Next Summer

There are many more regulations and procedures we must follow until our part of the work is done, too many to detail here. Just be assured that when we excavate for your new pool, we exercise every care so you can spend next summer enjoying its benefits.

Early Decisions In Project Planning Made In Good Faith

Planning a project these days is a structured process supported by a range of software tools that keep track of progress against the original milestones established at the start of the work. Typically, it starts with stakeholder agreements followed by setting goals, priorities and deliverables. Then a schedule is created, risk assessments prepared and the final plan presented to everyone involved.

Complex Projects Call for Sound Planning

It sounds simple enough when set out like this, but in reality it can be very complex, especially when large projects are involved. There are high stakes in every aspect, from engineering to the financials, the acquisition of skilled personnel, having the best equipment right through to site safety and protection of the general public.

Changes to Early Decisions Inevitable in Long-term Projects

Decision-making is a critical part of keeping a project on track, and many of these decisions need to be made at the planning stage. Those early decisions are made with the best of intentions, but without a window into the future. Things change as the project moves along, and it is critical to success that these changes are incorporated into every aspect of the project plan.

This is something we come across in our business almost every day. At Dee Gees Bobcats, we supply both machinery and skilled operators for general hire. We work on drainage and trenching projects, swimming pool excavations, demolitions and other similar earth moving projects. We are also experienced at tricky, under-house excavations, which are in demand by home owners who need more space.

Changed Site Conditions Sometimes not in the Plan

Our work can be made more difficult than it needs to be, or be a safe and simple job, depending on decisions made by someone else at the beginning of a project. Being independent contractors these decisions are out of our control and often involve changed site conditions as a result of work done by other contractors before we come on site.

Expert Guidance and Practical Experience Produces Results

Nowadays, we check the site conditions ourselves before we start work, and make our own decisions about the best way to do our part of the job. If the site is under the control of someone else, we work with them to get the best, most cost effective and safest outcome. Where this involves working within the confines of expert knowledge and planning, we are happy to follow instructions.

If it is a smaller project under our charge, understanding the site conditions is our responsibility. We have many years of practical experience at our disposal, and we call on this experience to make the right choices that will give our clients the results they want.

Hazard Identification the Key to Eliminating Workplace Risks

Mechanised heavy machinery of any type by its very nature will always pose a significant risk to life and property, if not actively managed. Mobile heavy machinery, because it is not fixed permanently in one position, creates an additional set of hazards. In the hands of a capable and experienced operator the risks of people being struck or run over are negligible, but the situation is very different if the operator is untrained.

Duty of Care Explained

As the PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) with management and control of the plant in Queensland, Dee Gees Bobcats has a duty of care to make sure that our operators are competent, properly trained and supervised, and use our equipment appropriately to minimise any risks to the health and safety of others and themselves.

We must also continue to provide relevant information and instruction, for example when there have been changes to legislation or to the operating instructions of any of our pieces of equipment. The results of accident investigations are also a valuable resource where many lessons can be learnt, and where they apply to our operations we are required to update our personnel.

Common Hazards Documented in Safe Work Procedures

Safe work procedures have been used effectively by our industry for many years, and these document common hazards and the control measures needed to reduce or eliminate their effect. This information is readily available to businesses like ours and we take every opportunity to use these measures and to increase the skills of our operators.

The ongoing repair and maintenance of heavy equipment is also an important part of managing the risks created by its operation. Our excavators and bobcats, for example, need to be regularly serviced and moving parts checked for wear. Poorly maintained equipment is often the root cause of accidents or “near misses”, and having a regular maintenance schedule is a proven way of greatly reducing this risk.

Codes of Practice Provide Practical Guidance

We also refer to the Codes of Practice issued by governing bodies that provide practical guidance to PCBUs like ours in all aspects of risk management. Consulting with our personnel is also a key part of managing risks. As the people operating our equipment, they know the job better than anyone so their input is essential.

Sound Risk Management Reduces the Likelihood of Injury

There have been many deaths and injuries caused by poorly operated or maintained heavy machinery in Australian workplaces. Thankfully, they have greatly reduced in number over the past thirty years or so through the vigilant application of laws and risk management techniques.

When you hire equipment and operators from us, you can be assured of a professional approach to every part of the project, including risk management and safety.

There Is No Time For Breakdowns On A Work Site

Keeping mechanical equipment in good working order is an essential part of running a business that relies on such equipment for speed and efficiency. Imagine then, a work site where earth needs to be excavated, multiple post holes are required quickly or part of the site is to be levelled. Other trades with their own equipment are waiting for this work to be completed before they start their own tasks.

Machinery Breakdowns Costly to Everyone Involved

Think about how much money is tied up in this equipment and in the wages of the people waiting to work. Imagine the flow-on effect if none of this work could start because a critical piece of earth moving equipment failed just as the machine was getting started. This is the scenario that many project managers face when things go wrong on a job site.

No one can afford this kind of delay, and when we are hired to do a job, we are aware of the importance to our client of having our equipment in good condition and work ready. This is why Dee Gees Bobcats pay careful attention to regular maintenance and replace any worn components before they are likely to fail.

Equipment Failures Often Caused by Poor Maintenance

In fact, poorly performed or infrequent maintenance is a major cause of equipment failure in our industry. Take, for example, the hydraulic systems most of our equipment needs to keep operating. A loss of hydraulic fluid pressure can occur when a flexible hydraulic hose ruptures, causing a sudden loss of power or lift. Failure to keep hydraulic oil free of contaminants can result in an oil top-up introducing dirt into the system where it can damage system components.

Pre-Start Checks Can Highlight Potential Problems

A key part of regular maintenance that is often overlooked in the rush to get machinery loaded and to a job is the pre-start check. Checking things like engine and transmission levels can prevent a major failure on the job. If all grease or lubrication points receive regular attention it is unlikely that there will be an equipment failure due to lack of lubrication.

Replace Worn Parts When First Noticed

On the job breakdowns also occur because worn parts are not replaced immediately they are noticed. Many operators try to cut costs by waiting until it is evident that a particular component is about to fail. They try to squeeze a few days, then a few more out of the item only to have it fail during a job. This costs much more than replacing the part when it was first noticed.

Our maintenance program is first class, so our clients can have every confidence that our machinery will be there on their site, ready to get the job done.

Earthmoving Is A Risky Business Without Insurance

Insurance is one of the few things we have that we hope is never used, as it means that some unexpected event has happened that has caused us loss or damage. For a homeowner whose house has just burnt down, it can be the starting point from which they rebuild. For a business owner, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the business can continue to trade, even after something has disrupted their ability to deliver a product or service.

Insurance Essential to Protect Business Operators

In the case of an earth moving business like Dee Gees Bobcats, there are several types of insurance that we consider essential to protecting not only our interests, but our clients as well. The type of work that we do is not without risk and because we are operating large machines on private properties we do everything we can to make sure that we are not transferring that risk onto our clients.

We do this by supplying earth moving equipment in good operating order that is regularly maintained. Our staff are fully licensed and experienced, with the training and background to perform their difficult tasks to the highest standards of workmanship and safety.

Insurance Must be Right for Our Industry

Naturally, we insure all our plant and equipment against loss and damage, but just as important as having insurance cover, is getting the right type of cover to suit the unique circumstances facing our type of business. There are insurance companies that operate in this market and provide a number of different products suitable for our industry.

They are able to offer policies that are quite specific. For example, they offer fleet insurance for companies large enough to have many vehicles, or policies just for dump trucks, tipper trucks and prime movers, amongst others. For items of plant, it is possible to get a policy just for earth moving, drilling, crane operating, demolition and other similar activities.

Public Liability Insurance a Must

As far as the actual management of the business is concerned, public liability insurance is an absolute must. This type of insurance covers a business for personal injury or property damage claims made by third parties (other than employees) that arise from the operations of the business. Third parties would typically be contractors, customers or members of the general public. It is the most common insurance product sold to businesses.

Confused? Get Professional Advice

Without the right insurance products in place, any business is vulnerable to risk, not just ones like ours. Get professional advice as there are so many providers and products on the market that it is almost impossible to choose the right one without assistance. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind, and the knowledge that if the worst happens, the business can still survive.

Safety, Efficiency and Damage Prevention – Good Reasons to Use the Right Equipment

Even the simplest of job tasks can be made easier with the right equipment. Trimming a concrete path was once hard work, pushing along a metal wheel on the end of a handle, but these days, with outdoor power equipment like a weed eater it is a breeze. The humble mop was labour intensive and messy, wrung out by hand each time it was dipped into a bucket of water. Squeeze mops have made washing the floor much easier.

What does any of that have to do with Dee Gees Bobcats? Well, we like to use the right equipment for the projects we work on for several good reasons. We have access to a wide range of Brisbane Earthmoving Equipment and related equipment as well as the experienced operators needed to produce the high standard of work our clients expect.

Using the Wrong Equipment for the Job is a Safety Issue

Safety is our number one reason for using the correct equipment for the task. There are very few second chances when using heavy machinery, and there are proven work methods our industry uses that get the job done while keeping safe the operator and others who are close by. People have been injured in the past, taking shortcuts like grabbing the closest piece of equipment instead of the correct one.

The Right Equipment is Always the Most Efficient

Our next reason is all about efficiency. The earth moving industry in South East Queensland is competitive and only businesses that do quality work in a timely and cost effective manner survive. For example, we often travel many kilometres to a job. Taking equipment that won’t successfully complete the task loses time, wastes costly fuel and holds up other work. In situations where there is a penalty clause for running over time, the extra financial penalty could mean the completed job will incur a loss.

Expensive Damage a Real Possibility unless the Equipment Suits the Task

The large equipment used in our industry is expensive and whether it is leased or purchased, it is a significant proportion of the operating costs of any earth moving business. Preventing damage to our machinery while still doing quality work on time is important for the financial health of our company. This is another valid reason for making sure that we are using the most effective machinery for a particular task.

Pushing a piece of equipment to perform work that it was not designed to do by over-loading it, squeezing it into a space that is obviously too small or any one of many other inappropriate uses, creates the potential for damage to the equipment and a hazard for the operator.

Our operators are professionals who look after the machines they are driving, know the operating or load limits and use the right equipment for each project they work on.

Gearing Up For Christmas

Well the cat is out of the bag. Christmas is fast approaching and you want your backyard to be looking spick and span and looking fantastic in time for the celebrations. This is not a job to be rushed, however. Proper procedure must be considered.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many restrictions placed on the way an operator must conduct excavation? Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) have tightened up their act considerably and we can tell you why. It’s simple really. Over the years there have been a few cowboys who thought they could turn a quick buck by running a small or heavy machinery business.

Sure it’s true, accidents can happen to good operators but the real truth is that accidents happen when unaware operators climb into the seat of a bobcat, front end loader, or excavator. Inexperience can cater for a few incidents; we all may learn in a controlled environment and pass the test to get our ticket but the real experience starts on the job.

Monotony can be your worst enemy in this industry so it is incredibly important to maintain attention to detail. Horseplay or a casual approach to an “easy” job can mean the difference between going home and going to the hospital – if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky you get a one-way trip to the morgue.

Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) – Looking After Us

We all might rile at some time or another about a “ridiculous” WHS requirement but the fact is that the rules have been put in place to ensure appropriate procedure is adhered to.

The only reason WHS was created at all was because someone had the foresight to make a record of what sort of accident happened when, the extent of injury including death, and how many times it happened. Based on this data, a set of procedures were required to be created to keep us all safe.

Preliminary Inspection a Must

To this end, Dee-Gees Bobcats Pty Ltd will always make a thorough investigation of a worksite before conducting any work.

Our skilled operators are able to conduct a thorough due diligence of any job, be it big or small, in an appropriate manner with minimal time. This is because we train our staff carefully and offer updates and refreshers on a regular basis. This is because we value our staff and want to send them home safe and sound every night.

Heavy Machinery + Inexperience = Danger

There are many things a good handyman can do for himself around the house. Being able to change your tap washers, clean out your gutters, paint a wall, and trim small tree limbs are all very well, provided you know what you are doing.

There is no doubt that undertaking some of these tasks will save you money. For other tasks, it is important to weigh the risk against your skills. Operating heavy machinery looks like child’s play when you watch a child play with his or her Tonka truck in the sandpit.

Certainly, good operators with skill and experience such as the crew at Dee Gees Bobcats possess make it look simple and easy. If you do a search on YouTube you are even likely to find operators of such finesse they can make their machines “dance”; but we digress.

The truth is though that each and every one of our operators has undergone formal training and achieved a level of skill that allows for them to hold the appropriate “tickets” or licences to safely and successfully operate our range of heavy machinery.

Complete and Thorough Assessment

Whilst there are the normal procedures for clearing trees, building roads and digging holes each job is different and will bring its own set of issues with it. When we come to have a look at a site we want to get an idea of what is actually required, what obstacles may be present such as trees, fences, retaining walls and buildings, as well as how we can overcome them.

This will give us information as to which size machine will best suit the job, what tools may be required to assist, what precautions should be taken and roughly how long a job could take.

Frees You Up To Do What You Do Best

They say you should always employ a field specialist to carry out quality work.

There are many reasons for this. We make hard work look easy and can do it in a lot less time with no damage and a lot less cleaning up. Not only that but we are covered with Workplace Health and Safety compliance. This frees your time up to pursue your own work or personal interests.

It makes sense for you to concentrate on what you do – or more importantly want to do – best. If you don’t know, then employ someone who does.