Important Safety Precautions When Working In Trenches

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Excavation work and trenching are considered to be highly hazardous operations in the construction industry. Precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of all personnel working in this environment.

What is a Trench?

An excavation is any man-made excavation of the soil. It includes trenches as well as cavities made by earth removal. A trench is an underground excavation, generally deeper than it is wide. A trench is usually no wider than 4.5 metres.

photo credits: www.en.wikipedia.org

What are the Hazards?

The greatest hazard imposed by trench work is that the trench or excavation might collapse and cause injury or even death to a worker. Other hazards include the operation of heavy machinery to build trenches, the proximity of machinery traffic, any electrical wiring overhead or underground, handling of materials in the trench environment and underground utilities like natural gas. Other hazards include falls or falling loads.

Cave-Ins

The greatest risk in working in trenches is that they will cave in. Cave-ins are considered more likely to occur than any other excavation related accident. Cave-ins are potentially life threatening, so where possible trench shields should be used. Trench Shields can be used to help protect workers performing their roles within a trench. A trench shield is generally constructed of steel or aluminium and features sidewalls that are held apart by spreaders. The spreaders will vary in size depending on the width of the trench.

Protection

If a trench is deeper than 1.5 metres protective systems are required unless the trench is dug in stable rock. Deep trenches will require a protective system to be designed by an engineer to ensure safety standards are met.

A number of protective systems can be employed. Sloping is a system that requires the trench wall to be cut back at an angle away from the trench. This minimises the risk of a cave-in. Shoring an also be installed to prevent potential cave-ins. Trench shields also help to support soil and prevent cave-ins from occurring. Engineers will assess factors such as soil type, depth of trench, water content of the soil, weather and loading to devise the most appropriate protective system.

Inspections

Trenches need to be inspected regularly, usually daily, as conditions can change quickly. A highly competent worker with a sound knowledge of excavation safety should be employed for this task. This person will need to locate and eliminate potential hazards.

Access

All access points to trenches and excavations needs to be thoroughly monitored for safety. This includes steps and ramps down into a trench as well as ladders used to exit trenches. Entry and exit points need to be located nearby all workers.

General Rules

Common sense should prevail. Heavy equipment must be kept away from the edge of trenches in order to avoid compromising edges. Trenches should be inspected at the start of each shift. Trenches should be inspected following any bad weather event, particularly a rain storm. Tests should be carried out to determine oxygen levels and also the presence of hazardous fumes or toxic gases.

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Oh, Hearts!

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One of the things that I love doing is taking photos of random things. I noticed these heart-shaped plants and thought they’re lovely!

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The first two photos are actually creeping weeds but they look beautiful, don’t they?  When I took the last photo, I did not notice there’s another plant at the bottom that are heart-shaped, too!

Okay, I am being cheesy taking photos of plants.  What can I say? I guess someone who’s constantly in love can’t help it! :)

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Fiery Skies

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I am not a morning person so I don’t usually get to see the sun rise– but I definitely love late afternoons.  The sun setting is always a beautiful sight to behold.  The dusk is my favorite time of the day and I always see to it that I get to have a little sky watching before heading home to prepare dinner.

I love it especially when I am driving on a late afternoon. The sight of the skies never cease to amaze me! One afternoon I was so wowed with the kaleidoscope of colors in the sky I had to stop and shoot photos with my phone.

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As I was staring at the sky that afternoon I just thought, only a God in Heaven could make something this beautiful.  Surely there must be a God– and somewhere up there is a home.  Everything that I perceive beautiful in this earth would be nothing in comparison to the beauty of what God has prepared for those who love Him.

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