A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that approximately 25 workers are injured or killed every year while doing excavation projects.
Digging on the ground is not an easy task and it can definitely become a dangerous one. It’s important to follow excavation safety rules to avoid injuries and to protect the lives of your personnel.
These rules are particularly important when working with heavy machinery designed to dig deep into the ground or lift heavy loads of soil. Additionally, different types of soils behave in certain ways and more care is necessary to prevent landslides and similar accidents.
Top Rules For Excavation Safety
To make sure that your excavation process is smooth as silk, work only with contractors who follow the next general safety rules. You can contact us today to obtain a quote for your project and find out how our technicians can help you.
1. Identify The Locations of Pipes and Cables Underground
As you probably already know, the plumbing and electrical systems in your house don’t simply work out of thin air or by using magic. There are numerous pipes and cables situated underground which make it possible for you to have a shower or watch Netflix shows.
When digging in the ground, you need to be mindful of these cables.
First of all, electrical cables are very dangerous as accidentally bumping into one can result in electrocution. Secondly, damaging water pipes while excavating will eventually make you spend more money on repairs.
Expert companies perform something called as an excavation risk assessment.
Part of this task is to identify where water pipes and electrical cables are. The contractor then notifies the water and electrical companies that an excavation project is about to start. These experts will also do everything to avoid touching the water pipes and cables and prevent more serious damage.
2. Wear Protective Equipment
Excavating can be dangerous because you’re essentially dealing with huge chunks of Earth which can fall uncontrollably on personnel. Wearing gloves to avoid scratches, uniforms and safety helmets is a must. This prevents rocks or other debris from causing head injuries to the workers.
Also, in the unfortunate event of a slip and fall accident, the worker is more protected if he wears adequate equipment such as boots and a helmet.
In this case, injuries are minimized. Moreover, if the excavation process happens somewhere near a road, the personnel must wear high-visibility clothes.
3. Trenches Should Have Ladders Every 25 Feet
Complex excavation processes involve digging trenches at least 4-5 feet deep.
The rules of excavation state that each trench which is deeper than 4 feet should be equipped with means of exit such as ramps, stairs or ladders. The ladder should be placed every 25 feet to facilitate a quick exit in the case of an emergency.
In a similar fashion, bridges or walkways should be created over these trenches. This allows workers to safely cross from one side to the other, especially when they have tools or materials in hands. If the trench is deeper than 4 feet, the bridge should be equipped with guardrails for more safety.
4. Workers Shouldn’t Stand or Walk Under Heavy-Machinery
Excavators are frequently used in complex excavation processes.
These are large machines weighing 3-6 tons on average. As you can probably imagine, it’s not a good idea to stay too close when such a monster is operated, much less in a trench underneath it.
Workers should be instructed to get out from trenches when heavy-machinery is operated nearby. You never know when the Earth might give up and a landslide can occur, especially if the soil is particularly wet.
The same rule applies for other lifting equipment which loads dirt into trucks to be transported somewhere else.
5. Pay Attention to the Weather
Certain excavation processes can take a couple of days or even weeks to finish. It would be ideal if the weather would always remain sunny and beautiful, but in most cases, there will be rainy days during the excavation period.
A qualified person should be in charge of identifying the potential hazards associated with bad weather conditions. For example, how would rain affect the quality of the soil? Is it safe to work in very windy conditions? Is it safe to work while it snows?
6. Proceed with Caution Near Pipes and Cables
In some instances, it is necessary to dig very close to electrical cables or water pipes. This can be a dangerous process and that’s why workers need to take appropriate safety measures.
For example, the workers should dig alongside the pipes, not directly above them, to prevent damage. Insulated tools should be used to dig around electrical cables such as shovels or spades.
It is recommended to avoid using power tools near electrical cables to minimize the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
In some cases, it might be necessary to install support systems such as shields, sheets or piles.
These are required to hold the soil in place, to protect sensitive areas which might contain cables and pipes, etc. A qualified engineer should inspect these areas and come up with the correct protective systems to avoid damage and injuries.
7. Fill Up Trenches Upon Completion
Every excavation process will eventually be finished.
Upon completion, the working personnel should fill back trenches and holes with dirt, not leave them exposed. This is an important task because a lack of attention can cause other people (including children and adults) to accidentally fall into the trench or hole, getting injured.
Start Your Excavation Process on The Right Foot!
These are the basics when it comes to excavation safety and as you can see, all these rules make sense. They don’t only prevent accidents and injuries within your property, but also help the workers complete an excavation process quicker and with more piece of mind.
For more interesting details about digging and excavation projects in general, check out our web page and get acquainted with our excavation services. We use only high-quality equipment to dig trenches and holes and our personnel is fully trained and qualified for this job.