Now that the weather is warm, it's time to start on the construction projects. Trenching projects are best done during warm weather, when the ground is easier to work with. If your crews are going to be working in trenches, it's important to ensure their safety. According to statistics, about 270 workers died in trench cave-ins between the years 2000 and 2006. However, cave-ins aren't the only hazards that our crews will face. To make sure your crews will be safe while they're in the trenches, here are four safety procedures you should follow.
Mark Underground Utilities
This might seem like a given, but before your crews begin any trenching project, you need to have utility companies come out and identify their underground utility lines. Once they're identified, you need to make sure that they're clearly marked for your crews. It's important to remember that one or two markers won't be sufficient protection if your crews will be working on extensive trenching lines. For maximum protection, make sure the underground utilities are clearly identified along the entire path your crews will be working.
Protect Before Entering
Once you've identified the utility lines, you'll need to make sure that the trenches are securely shored up before any of your crews enter them. Trench workers can get trapped and killed when trenches collapse. Unfortunately, collapses occur quickly, and often, when appropriate shoring measures aren't taken. To make sure your trenches are secure, be sure the shoring is designed and implemented by a trained shoring engineer. This is particularly important when it comes to large projects that will include expansive trenches.
Test for Hazardous Fumes
It's not uncommon for hazardous fumes, and noxious gases to build up inside trenches. It's also not uncommon for oxygen levels to be compromised in deep trenches. Before your crews begin working, make sure each of the trenches are tested for fumes, gases, and inadequate oxygen levels. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation in trenches that are deemed unsafe.
Know When to Inspect
When it comes to trench work, the best way to ensure crew safety is to conduct thorough inspections. It's important to note that trenches should be thoroughly inspected before the start of each shift, and after any significant rain storm. Shifting can that can occur overnight, and water saturation following a rain storm, can both lead to trench collapse.
Don't take chances with the safety of your crews. If you're next project involves expansive trenching, use the safety procedures described above to protect the well-being of your crews.