How to Stay Safe While Trenching

Trenching is a necessary part of many types of construction projects. The process of trenching involves excavating a narrow portion of land. In most cases, construction companies dig trenches to install and maintain pipelines, cables and conduits. Like most aspects of construction, there are certain dangers associated with trenching, including cave-ins.

What are the best ways to stay safe when trenching? For starters, it’s important to wear proper safety gear and apply proper trenching methods. Read on for more information on staying safe while trenching.

Safety at different depths

The safety measures needed for trenching can vary depending on the depth of the trench. For example, once a trench reaches 4 feet deep, it’s important to provide workers with ladders, steps, ramps and other methods of safely getting out. A protective system must be put in place for trenches over 5 feet in depth. Examples of protective systems include proper sloping or benching. A professional engineer should design the protective systems for trenches over 20 feet in depth.

Perform atmospheric testing

If the trench is over 4 feet deep and there’s a potential for dangerous gases, it’s important to conduct atmospheric testing. These gases could include carbon dioxide and methane. If dangerous gases are discovered after workers have started working, provide them emergency rescue equipment, like breathing apparatuses.

Keep heavy equipment away

Remember to keep heavy equipment at least 2 feet away from the edge of the trench. You don’t want a truck accidentally rolling into the trench while workers are inside.

Don’t start digging until after locating underground utilities

It’s never a good idea to start trenching blindly. In fact, it’s usually required that construction workers contact local utility companies before excavating. Speaking with local utility workers before starting a dig will help avoid having to pay expensive fines.

Underground utilities can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. For example, hitting a gas line could release dangerous gases into the air. Other examples of underground utilities that could cause injury include electric, water and sewer lines.

Perform plenty of inspections

It’s important to routinely inspect the trenching site. Have a competent employee check for the potential of cave-ins and/or collapses. These inspections should be conducted at least once a day and after any storms. If there is even a small potential for cave-ins, avoid letting workers into the trench.

Pick the best person for the job

Always choose a trustworthy worker to be in charge of designing, inspecting and supervising the trench. This person should have plenty of experience in trenching and understand trenching safety.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to stay safe while trenching. While trenching presents many dangers, they can always be avoided. Just don’t skip any of the safety precautions mentioned above when working in a trench.

If you’re looking for top-quality construction work at competitive prices, contact the professionals at Randy Roan Construction Inc. We offer a variety of services, including underground utility installation, site prep and subdivision prep. We look forward to meeting with you soon.