National safety statistics published by Safework Australia cover a range of industries and provide a comprehensive summary of workplace injuries and fatalities specific to each industry. It is not surprising that the construction industry ranks third for the number of workplace fatalities.
A closer analysis shows that falls from heights, being struck by moving or falling objects and vehicle collisions were the cause of approximately 70% of the fatalities in this industry between 2016 and 2020.
Current Statistics are Interesting
Only 2% of workplace fatalities during this time have been attributed to cave-ins, which are one of the major hazards of excavation work, although they are not the only ones. However, the general perception of excavation work as being dangerous is not currently supported by this statistics.
It is likely that several decades of legislation, prosecutions, research and workplace training has instilled in workers that where excavation is concerned, there are no second chances. Risk assessments and the implementation of well-known and successful control measures prior to work commencing are essential.
Excavation Code of Practice 2021 Available for Guidance
The Excavation Work Code of Practice 2021 has an extensive list of hazards associated with excavation work. Some of the major hazards include falls, whether from the dislodgement of soil or rock, falls from one level to another and falling objects.
The presence of underground essential service equipment such as gas, sewerage, electricity, water and telecommunications are common in excavations, so these must be managed to ensure the safety of workers and members of the public.
Risk Management is Essential
Unless carefully managed, excavations can cause adjacent structures to become unstable, as can the excavation itself, caused by persons or equipment working adjacent to it. Vibration and hazardous noise can have a detrimental effect on the excavation process.
Overhead essential services such as power lines and ground-mounted services such as transformers, gas and water meters are also major hazards that must be carefully managed.
Hazards Can Be Managed
Additional hazards in excavation work include certain manual tasks, hazardous chemicals present in the soil to be excavated, poorly ventilated trenches that could affect the health of workers, incorrect placement of excavated materials, plant or other loads and the presence of or possible inrush of water or other liquids into the excavation where people may be working.
Our plant operators here at Dee Gees Bobcats are experienced at earthmoving, assisting builders, landscapers, homeowners, councils and developers to complete projects such as general earthmoving, drainage, trenching, pool and under house excavations, driveways and other similar works.
Risk management is an essential part of our operations, enabling us to build a reputation for professionalism, quality machinery and excellent customer service.