BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF TRENCH SAFETY
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE HAZARD WHILE WORKING ON A TRENCHING OR EXCAVATION OPERATION? The number one hazard while working on a trenching or excavation site is injury or fatality from trench collapse.
HERE ARE SEVEN BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO REMEMBER BEFORE BEGINNING WORK EACH DAY.
1. Prior to work beginning trenches must be inspected for:
- signs of soil erosion,
- possible cave-ins,
- evidence of failure of protection systems,
- low oxygen levels or hazardous atmospheric conditions, or
- any other hazards, like accumulating water.
Any necessary corrective actions must be made before work begins.
2. If a trench is 5 or more feet deep it must be stabilized by shoring, sloping, or have some protective system to prevent a cave-in (unless the excavation is in 100% stable rock).
3. Find the exits. There must be a safe way to enter and exit a trench within 25 feet of any worker within the trench at any time. Ladders must extend a minimum of three feet above the walk-off surface.
4. Spoils (soil piles) must be kept at least two feet from the edge of the trench.
5. Heavy equipment and traffic must be kept away from trench edges; excavators may not straddle a trench.
6. Make sure you know your rescue plan. Have there been changes to the work tasks or environment that would require a change to the last rescue plan you reviewed with your supervisor?
7. Find the Competent Person. The Competent Person must be onsite every day, and will perform inspections before work begins and at different times throughout the day to monitor conditions.
QUIZ YOUR PARTICIPANTS
At what depth does a trench require stabilization? (5 FEET)
When should work start after an inspection? (AFTER ANY NECESSARY CORRECTIVE ACTIONS HAVE BEEN MADE AND NO SOONER.)