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.

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.

Don’t Risk a Serious Incident or Major Damage by Doing It All Alone

To the untrained eye, operating earth moving equipment on a construction site looks effortless. The operator moves a few levers and suddenly large chunks of earth are picked up from one area and deposited to another. The landscape changes in minutes, and in a few hours, the job is done and the site is swarming with other trades.

Moving Earth with Large Machines Requires Experienced Operators

Of course, there is a very good reason why it looks easy. Operating this type of equipment is a skilled occupation requiring experience and, for large machines, licencing and certification by relevant authorities. Many of the tasks undertaken by these operators can be dangerous, and their knowledge of safety rules and techniques keeps everyone on the site safe.

We know that some do-it-yourself landscapers are keen not only to save money on their projects but also to test their skills with some of the less dangerous equipment. We understand that, but people must realise that often, the damage they cause costs them twice as much as if they had hired one of our operators.

A Dee Gees Bobcats operator can have the job done in half the time to a professional standard without any damage or danger to others. We have been called in on occasions to rectify the damage caused by an untrained person trying to do work that is beyond their level of skill.

Unskilled Operators can cause Major Property Damage

For example, excavating too close to a retaining wall can undermine the foundations. Depending on the soil texture, this can cause a section of the wall to collapse as the compacted soil is loosened by the operation of the machinery. This can jeopardise the integrity of the remaining wall, and be costly to repair.

Paving looks easy enough, and with proper preparation and care, a handyman can successfully create a paved path or recreation area suitable for a backyard. However, we have seen top-soil that has been carelessly removed, leaving an uneven area that then has to be smoothed out before work can continue. This resulted in a loss of time on the job, and the extra cost of calling our team in to rectify what for us, would have been a quick and simple task.

Serious Injuries and Equipment Damage a Consequence of Inexperience

On larger projects, the results of untrained people using machines such as bobcats and mini excavators can be much more serious than uneven paving. Overloading the bucket can cause the machine to become unbalanced and tip over, possibly crushing the operator or causing a similar hazard to anyone close by. Failure to keep clear of obstacles or other people on the site could result in substantial property damage or serious injury to others.

Why consider going it alone when you can avoid all these scenarios, and others not mentioned, just by contacting Dee Gees Bobcats? You will get a professional result without the stress.

Site Safety is Always Number One

Workplace Health and Safety is big business these days. Some people may not be pleased with the restrictions that are placed on some tasks. The truth is, without these accidents we would not have these restrictions.

Sometimes an accident or claim may be due to a case of tomfoolery or a too casual approach to a monotonous job.

More often than not though there is no doubt it is a case of learning by the experience. Through the recording and studying of past incidents, including injury and death, a pattern has been formed regarding the level of risk of all tasks, as well as what injuries or accidents are more common to which task.

The outcome of this study has led to the creation of sometimes very stringent guidelines that all providers must adhere to. Provide and abide or pay the fine. Because technology will keep providing new ways to achieve a better outcome this makes the area of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) a moving fabric.

It is important to stay flexible, not carve anything in stone and to always be prepared for an opportunity to evolve. This is why we choose to stay in touch with any updates that may arise in this industry.

Working With Heavy Machinery

Working with a bobcat or heavier machinery may incorporate many activities to complete a particular job. Any job will demand appropriate unloading and loading procedures, let alone the simple exchange of bucket to auger or similar, as required.

A project may also incorporate the use of accessories to the job such as chainsaws, lump hammers and large chains. All of these procedures and actions possess their own set of guidelines so that accidents can be reduced if not completely avoided.

Certainly, to operate a large vehicle you require the corresponding licence or certification.Dee Gees Bobcats value our operators and want to make sure we send them home to their families safe and sound each night.

Induction Training

To this end, staff members are fully trained and they receive a thorough induction process.

Our induction process incorporates all aspects of WHS in and around the machinery, depot, and worksites. This includes any storage or car parking areas, and even extends to any offsite storage of our materials and vehicles, should they be required.

All staff members learn the appropriate handling of machinery, level of protection, personal or otherwise, which is required, as well as good site behaviour and communication.

Keep Industrial Yards Tidy to Eliminate Safety Hazards

It has been proven many times through statistics gathered during workplace accident investigations, that poor housekeeping is one of the major causes of serious injury in an industrial environment. While these accidents and incidents are reducing in frequency and severity with better employee education and monitoring, unfortunately they still occur. Keeping work areas tidy seems like an unnecessary chore to some workers and managements, but a tidy workplace is much safer than one that resembles a bomb site.

Untidy Industrial Yards a Safety Hazard

Much attention has been placed on safety issues in the interior of factories, storage facilities, engineering workshops and other industrial facilities. However, the outside of these facilities and other workplaces such as landscaping suppliers and construction sites often look unkempt. The risk of a workplace injury or damage to equipment in these situations is high.

Cleaning up these areas and keeping them maintained is not difficult and can save the companies involved a lot of money in lost time, WorkCover and equipment damage. They don’t even need to take their own operators and equipment off line, when they can hire both from us here at Dee Gees Bobcats.

Yard Clean-ups Quick and Easy with Hire Equipment

Our range of equipment includes bobcats, tippers, rock grabs and breakers, and soil levellers. You may not need all of these machines for your industrial yard clean-up. Often all that is required is a bobcat to clean up and a tipper to take away the unwanted material. Our operators are fully licenced and experienced with this type of work.

Good housekeeping reduces the risk of what is termed in the OHS industry, “slips, trip and falls”. The types of injuries that could occur in an untidy industrial yard are puncture wounds from falling onto rusty nails, leg or arm gashes from brushing against sharp objects or worse still, head injuries from falling into old equipment hidden in long grass. It is amazing what we uncover in long grass when we are asked to tidy up an industrial yard.

Rubbish-Strewn Yards and Flammable Material are a Fire Risk

The other hazard that is often not considered in these situations is that of fire. When a fire starts in an industrial yard through a lightning strike, a careless cigarette or just through the combustion effect of rubbish and extreme hot weather, it can have catastrophic consequences. It could result in the loss of the entire complex if the fire is close to workshop areas where oil, diesel, chemicals and other flammable material is stored.

We have found that a clean, tidy and safe environment is a productive one. Once our Dee Gees Bob Cats team have worked their magic, not only does the work site look professional but the employees want to keep it that way.