The construction industry is a vital part of our economy, but it is also one of the most dangerous. Excavation work including trenching is considered by legislation to be part of the construction industry and carries with it several risk factors. For example, if no precautions are taken, workers or members of the public risk falling into or being trapped by the collapse of an excavation. People working in the excavation risk being struck by fallen objects or being exposed to airborne contaminants.
Legislation, Codes and Industry Standards
Current legislation has a range of specific requirements for the management of these and other risks. Here in Queensland, the Work Health and Safety Regulation provides the legal framework and the Excavation Work Code of Practice offers the guidance to safely perform all excavation and trenching work to the required legal and industry standards.
Dee Gees Bobcats are contractors providing trenching excavation services to a range of clients. Our experienced operators follow all legal and industry requirements regarding safety when performing their work. We also co-operate with other contractors on construction sites in order to minimise or eliminate all risks.
Locate Underground Essential Services
The Excavation Work Code of Practice gives comprehensive safety advice, but there are a few common issues that could occur at any excavation. For example, it seems obvious but before any excavation takes place, the underground locations of any essential services such as gas, water, sewerage, electricity, etc., should be identified. Striking any of these with earthmoving equipment will disrupt services but could also endanger the operators and others on site.
Secure the Site to Protect the Public
Safety measures should also be in place to prevent unauthorised access to the excavation/trenching site to eliminate any risk to members of the public and other workers who may unwittingly venture into the area. This is especially important if the excavation site will be open for an extended length of time.
Take Precautions to Prevent Ground Collapse
If the depth of the trench is 1.5 metres or more, the risk of ground collapse is possible, depending on the type of soil being excavated. The three main types of ground collapse control measures are benching and battering, shoring and shielding. Shielding does not prevent the ground from collapsing into the trench, but it does protect workers in the trench by keeping them separated from the collapsing material.
Follow the Advice in the Code of Practice
There are many other safety issues and remedies detailed in the code of practice. Following them during excavation and trenching work will significantly reduce the risk of injury. Where safety is concerned there is no room for complacency.