How is Safety Managed During Excavations?

How is Safety Managed During Excavations?

Almost every type of construction activity requires some degree of excavation. As the projects become larger and more complex, the safety risks to both the workers on the project and the general public increases. These risks must be carefully managed to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and are accident/incident-free.

Who is Responsible for What?

The requirements for excavation safety in Queensland are set out in the Excavation Work Code of Practice 2021. This document is supported by legislation and a series of regulations. It is a comprehensive guide, which ranges from who is responsible for safety, the risk management process, the planning and control of risks, training and supervision of workers and developing an emergency plan, through to successful completion of the project.

Planning is the First Step

Planning for the excavation should never be rushed or ignored. Many excavations may seem routine, and it could be tempting to overlook this important step. However, there will be variations in soil type and depth, unknown hazards such as underground installations and other issues unique to each location that must be examined before starting work.

The planning process identifies the hazards, assesses the risks and decides on the appropriate control measures. This should be done in consultation with all personnel involved in the work. The Code of Practice lists the issues that should be addressed and one of these is SWMS (Safe Work Method Statements).

The Purpose of SWMS

An SWMS is required for high risk construction work and its purpose is to help PCBUs (persons conducting a business or undertaking), supervisors and workers implement and monitor control measures regarding safety. The SWMS must identify the type of high risk work, the relevant hazards and risks and how they will be managed and reviewed. It must be developed in consultation with workers and their representatives.

Who is Responsible for a SWMS?

A PCBU is responsible for either personally preparing the SWMS or ensuring that it is prepared before any high risk construction work starts. If the work is to be carried out near a trench with an excavated depth greater than 1.5 metres, an SWMS is required. Should this work be started without an SWMS in place, then the PCBU must have the work stopped immediately or as soon as it is safe and resumed only in accordance with the SWMS.

This is a process that our people at Dee Gees Bobcats are familiar and understand. Our operators perform their work to the highest industry standards, including those relevant to health and safety, especially where excavation work is concerned. We are a trusted earthmoving company with a reputation for professionalism.

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