If you were idly observing a backhoe digging into the earth you would be right in thinking that there was some type of construction work being undertaken. Whether it would be an excavation or a trench, however, would require further investigation, unless you had assumed that both activities were the same. In fact, they are similar but at the same time, also different, especially when it comes to safety requirements.
Removing Soil or Rock to Form a Hole or Cavity Equals Excavation
For clarity, and using the definitions accepted by industry and workplace safety authorities, we find that excavation work involves the removal of soil or rock from a site to form an open face, hole or cavity, including trenches, shafts and tunnels. This work is usually carried out using tools, machinery or explosives and because it is considered a type of construction work, there are specific safety requirements to be observed.
A Trench Has Specific Characteristics
The definition of a trench itself is much more specific. It is a horizontal or inclined way of opening where the length is greater than the width and greater than or equal to the depth. It extends below the surface of the ground and is open to the surface along its entire length. Again, because trenching is considered construction work, safety requirements must be met before any trench works begins.
Two of the services we provide at Dee Gees Bobcats are excavations and trenching. Our experienced operators create precise trenching routes with minimal disruption to surrounding areas. We are specialists at under house excavations and for clients who want a pool ready for summer, pool excavations are also a service we offer.
Extra Controls for Working in a Trench
Additional controls are required when excavating a trench that will be deeper than 1.5 metres. The work area must be secured from unauthorised or mistaken entry, and all sides of the trench much be supported by shoring, benching or battering to prevent it from collapsing. It should be noted that these control measures should be taken, even if the trench is less than 1.5 metres, where there is a risk of collapse onto a worker entering the trench.
Perhaps the clearest explanation for the difference between a trench and an excavation is that where a trench is the desired result at the end of the job, the excavation is the means whereby the trench is created. For example, a small, shallow trench may be needed to build a fence. However, creating the foundations for a high-rise building with an underground car park may require some trenching, but this would be part of a much bigger and deeper excavation, requiring more technical knowledge and tighter safety controls.