Trenching and excavation are necessary tasks in the construction and utility industries, but they can be dangerous. That’s why it’s important for construction site foreman to prioritize worker safety. OSHA offers plenty of guidance for foremen and employers who want to ensure worker safety on their job sites, but it’s company leaders who are responsible for instilling respect for safety culture in their workers. When one goes online one can find out about any 7 TRENCH SAFETY TOOLBOX TALK TOPICS TO PROMOTE SAFE WORK PRACTICES.
According to my sources, accidents within the private construction industry account for 80% of all trenching and excavation fatalities. That’s why it’s important for employers and foremen to communicate safety standards and regulations clearly. Introduce trenching and excavation workers to OSHA’s guidelines for excavation as specified in OSHA 1926.651 General Requirements. These requirements offer guidance to employers and workers on how to ensure safety during site access and egress, preventing vehicle accidents, using warning systems, and more.
According to RealtimeCampaign.com, soil classification is one of the most important factors workers and foremen need to consider when implementing protective measures. Soil type dictates what kind of trench system can be used and what tools workers should use to complete the system. Make it clear that soil must be reevaluated following any site condition.
Sloping and Benching
Sloping and benching are two of the most essential protective systems for workers. They should be instructed to use sloping to cut walls at angles away from the excavation site and benching to form a series of horizontal steps. Remind workers of OSHA’s benching regulations, which allow workers to use this technique only in cohesive soil.
Shoring offers active protection against cave-ins by applying positive pressure to the walls of a trench. To be effective, it must be placed correctly. Discuss manufacturers’ instructions, available sizes, limitations, and proper usage with workers.
Shielding and Trench Boxes
Neither shielding nor trench boxes prevent cave-ins. These systems are passive solutions designed to protect workers if a cave-in does occur. Review options like aluminum and steel boxes and walk workers through performing an inspection to check system components.
Shielding and shoring equipment comes with tabulated data that details proper use and equipment limitations. This information should be kept on-site and followed by all workers. Make sure they know that if the tabulated data does not support a unique use of shielding or shoring equipment, another protective system must be implemented.
Many trenching and excavation sites come with unique safety challenges. When tabulated data from safety system manufacturers don’t support a particular use, professional engineers may need to provide additional guidance using something like Raken. Review when to call on any professional engineers to ensure ongoing site safety.
The Bottom Line
Ensuring worker safety during trenching and excavation activities requires the collaboration of employers, foremen, engineers, and the workers themselves. Frequent toolbox talks and activities will make it easier for foremen to communicate safety standards and regulations to their workers.