By Doug Riseden
One of the most dangerous kinds of work performed by utility workers and contractors are repairs involving trench work. Every month workers are killed during repairs due to trench collapses. Most of these injuries and deaths are related to the ditch conditions e.g. soils, improper ditch construction and lack of proper shoring.
Many times these accidents are avoidable by simply having the right people on site with the right equipment and knowledge. The use of trench boxes is essential to ensure protection from cave-ins. Always remember – at a four foot depth you must have a ladder and when you reach five feet in depth you need shoring.
Trenches must be thoroughly inspected by trained workers who can classify the soil, and choose the correct type of protective equipment. These employees must ensure that the trench remains safe and should continuously inspect it for changing conditions. There are other conditions that could also affect the safety of the trench. Traffic and weather are a few examples, and I’m sure you can think of others.
Make sure that you have standard operating procedures that employees are aware of and follow regarding trench safety. Hold tailgate training sessions where you discuss safety. Make sure that employees receive formal training on trench safety, competent person training and shoring.
A successful day is sometimes gauged by how much was accomplished but a successful deal is really when everyone goes home safe. Pre-planning, training and communications prior to being in the trench plus continuous job site observations go a long way to ensuring that happens.
Product choice is also an important aspect of trench safety. Products that can make the repair process faster result in less time in the trench, which becomes a safety factor. Krausz products are easy to install and use. With fewer bolts and wide ranges, repairs can be accomplished in less time. The HYMAX and reduced bolt HYMAX Clamp are great examples of this.
All of these tips can help you provide a safe trench environment for you and your fellow workers. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can help you in any way.