Important Tips for Safe Trench Digging in Guadalupe County, TX

Important Tips for Safe Trench Digging in Guadalupe County, TX

November 30, 2019

There are a lot of safety hazards associated with the fields of construction and demolition. One common practice used in construction and excavation, trench digging, can be particularly dangerous. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about 60 workers are killed each year in trench cave-in accidents. Accidents resulting from collapses in trenches also result in some significant losses in the forms of property damage, workers compensation claims, personal injury lawsuits and work stoppages.

It is an unfortunate reality that trench cave-ins and accidents often occur without much warning at all, meaning workers can become trapped without more than a couple seconds’ notice. The pressure of the soil, especially with deep trenches, can result in death—just a cubic yard of soil weighs up to 3,000 pounds, which is about the average weight of a midsize car.

Therefore, knowing the risks associated with trench digging in Guadalupe County, TX, here are a few tips to help you make the process safer:

  • Make sure you have protective systems in place: If you’re going to be digging trenches deeper than five feet, you’ll need additional protective systems, unless the excavation is all contained within a sturdy rock formation. If there are trenches of 20 feet or deeper, you’ll need that protective system to be designed and implemented by a professional engineer with all the proper licenses and certifications. Protective systems should include shoring (timbers to support trench walls, thus preventing soil movement), sloping/benching (cutting back the wall of the trench at an angle away from the trench) and trench boxes (metal hydraulic boxes with bracing to put pressure on the walls of the trench).
  • Make sure there are safe means of access: There should be ladders, ramps, steps, lifts or other forms of safe access within 25 feet of all workers at all times while the job is in progress if the trench is four feet or deeper. This is an OSHA standard.
  • All workers should wear protective equipment: All workers are required by OSHA regulations to wear personal protective equipment, including steel toe boots, safety glasses, hard hats, reflective safety vests and hearing protection.
  • Employ atmospheric testing: Trenches may become hazardous to the health of workers, due to their likelihood of containing low oxygen levels or the presence of toxic fumes or gases. Therefore, workers should use atmospheric testing devices to search for the presence of these issues so they can mitigate the hazards before proceeding with the job.
  • Keep heavy equipment and tools away: There should be no heavy equipment or tools positioned near the edges of the trench, as that could pose a danger should the equipment or tools fall down into the trench on top of workers. Keep all equipment and tools safely away from the trench edges to prevent an accident from occurring.

For more information about some of the processes you can employ to ensure safer trench digging in Guadalupe County, TX, contact Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. today. We look forward to discussing your project with you.

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