Excavation and Safety – The Do’s and Don’ts

Excavation is the process of transplanting, moving and digging up the earth soil for numerous purposes such as building drainage channels, installing new utilities and clearing a plot of land. It is the act of digging up something from the earth’s crust.

If you are handling such a project of excavating the soil for specific reasons, then it is essential to know that there several safety steps to take when executing your work. These safety steps help to ensure the protection of your workforce and getting the job done correctly. Earthmoving is a risky business. Accidents can occur in the process which may lead to injuries or even fatalities. Below are the several excavation safety do’s and don’ts steps to take;

Safety precautions on the work site

The Do’s

  • Assess the site for any potential hazards

Before you carry out any excavation work, do remember to assess the site for utilities such as power lines, water lines, gas pipes, and other underground utilities. You can ask the local district authorities in your workplace for maps of the various utility lines located in the area. By doing this, you will be able to avoid damaging the important utility lines for neighboring properties. 

  • Wear proper safety clothes

Before anybody enters a trench, they should ensure that they are wearing safety boots with toecaps and protective high-visibility clothes not forgetting to mention hard hats. By wearing the hard hat and safety boots, you can rest assured of being secured from things falling into the trench. Wearing high-visibility clothing will make you visible enough for workers operating the heavy machines to be cautious.

  • Keep heavy machines away from the edge of the excavation site

At the excavation site, you should take extra precautions when you are operating heavy machines. Ensure that they are not moving too close to the edges of the site because they create vibrations which may cause earth to collapse suddenly.

  • Carry out atmospheric testing

Before going into the trench for work, you should carry out an atmospheric test to check for dangerous gasses or toxic fumes. These toxic fumes and gasses can sink into the bottom of excavated areas and accumulate. Therefore causing the bottom level of the excavated areas to become dangerously low in oxygen.

  • Prepare for emergencies

Workers at the excavation site should be ready for any accidents. Create a list of emergency contact lines for local firefighters, medics, and law enforcement. You should also have all the details of a utility company for cases where you damage or break a water or gas pipe.

The Don’ts

  • Pile up excavated soil on the edge of the trench

You need to be careful when excavating an area. Do not clutter soil on the trench’s edges because it may fall back into the trench. Not only does this risk injury of workers, it also means you will be once again removing this soil. Keep the excavated spoil and other materials at least 2 feet away from the trench edges.

  • Block exits or entrances in an excavated area

In an excavated area, constructed exits and entrances ensure the mobility of workers and materials. If the excavated area has more than a depth of 4 feet, then it is advisable to construct an exit and entrance of about 20 feet.  

  • Forget to warn others about the excavation work in progress

When you are commencing an excavation work, do not forget to keep caution signs or warnings to alert people staying in the area. If the work is progressing in a public space, then ensure that there is enough signage placed to indicate that the work is occurring. You can also build barriers or fences to prevent a passerby from falling into the excavated area.

  • Work under suspended or raised loads

Do not work under suspended or raised loads. They can slip, and fall anytime and this can cause severe injuries for any workers below. When you are moving the loads with a crane, action caution.

  • Fail to check on the excavated area regularly

It is usual to neglect your responsibilities to inspect the area. Especially, when you have been working for hours. Before you begin work, you should carry out daily inspections in the excavated area for any signs of collapse, weak soil or any specific dangers at this particular site. These inspections should be thorough.

By following these few safety steps, you can rest assured of performing a perfect work.