Trenching and excavation are two terms used when describing the act of digging and removing soil. An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the surface formed by earth removal, whereas a trench is further defined as a long, narrow horizontal or inclined opening made below the level of the ground.
Excavation and Trenching Dangers Mitigated by Safety Regulations
Both activities are essential tasks performed in all types of building and construction, and both, in inexperienced hands, can be dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. For this reason, excavation work is regulated under state Work Health and Safety legislation guided by a national model Code of Practice developed by Safe Work Australia.
The Code specifically mentions several risks involved in excavation work and advises on control methods to be followed to ensure the safety of workers and the general public. Some of these risks are the presence of excavated material and loads near the excavation, plant and equipment including a powered mobile plant, falls into the excavation, the use of explosives and ventilation of a confined space.
Some Potential Hazards
The list of potential hazards in the Code of Practice make frightening reading, but with controls in place, required tasks can be safely undertaken. Some of the most dangerous hazards are earth or rock falls, instability of adjacent structures, inrush of water or other liquid, hazardous chemicals, and poor ventilation. There are others, and the hazards at each site will be different as determined by a site risk assessment.
Our experienced operators at Dee Gees Bobcats perform professional excavation and trenching solutions for a range of clients including builders, tradespeople, homeowners and councils. We follow all the relevant safety regulations and we control any identified risks as required. We know how difficult these tasks can be and for that reason, we always caution against excavation and trenching being done by untrained people.
Not a Do-it-Yourself Option
For the do-it-yourself types who enjoy weekend yard work like erecting sheds, building retaining walls and similar projects, the temptation to ignore this advice and test their skills can sometimes be overwhelming. There are just too many things that can go wrong, as a glance through the hazards listed above shows.
Hidden Hazards are Dangerous
Digging a shallow post hole is one thing but constructing a foundation trench deep enough to sustain a brick wall is a completely different task with associated hazards. Are there any underground service cables or pipes, or will the trench compromise neighbouring structures? These are just two issues, so our advice is to contact us for a quote before starting any work.