Excavating work can be exceptionally hazardous when not performed using safe methods, especially trenching and digging out smaller areas on building sites.
Though excavating is a common part of building site preparation, excavation companies must recognize the dangers and take precautions to keep their worksite and workers safe.
Excavation services should be skilled at performing such work while avoiding these common hazards that can lead to serious worksite accidents and other problems if not anticipated and planned for.
1. Trenching Cave-Ins
The most serious risk when doing smaller excavation services like digging out trenches is cave-ins due to unstable trench walls.
These collapses can be deadly for those working within deep trenches after they are dug out.
Trench stability is affected by things like weather conditions and soil moisture levels, ground elevation and slope, as well as other details.
To avoid dangerous trenching and trench conditions, excavation companies must plan out all trench work with a licensed engineer who specializes in this work and can oversee the job.
2. Digging Through Utility Lines
Another primary risk with any kind of excavating work is accidentally digging through underground utility and gas lines.
At the very least, doing so can become a huge inconvenience and an extra expense for the excavation company.
At the worst, these accidents can be the cause of very dangerous gas leaks and electrical shorts that can be deadly for workers.
Before any kind of digging can begin, contractors must carefully plan out the job starting by contacting utility companies and allowing them to locate and mark out the position of all underground utilities.
It is a very basic yet critical step that must be taken regardless of any wait it may add to the schedule.
3. Falling Loads
Falling loads as well as employees falling into excavated holes or trenches are another common hazard at any excavation site.
This can happen when soil removed from excavation areas is piled too close to the hole or trench, then falls back into the space and endangering those working within it.
To prevent load falling and to reduce the chance that anyone will fall into an excavation area, OSHA demands that these areas are well marked with signs and that all material removed from trenches be piled far enough away from active work areas so it cannot collapse and fall back into the hole to bury those working there.
4. Unsafe Equipment Operation
A very common hazard on many excavating work sites is damage and injury due to improperly operated heavy equipment.
Backhoes, bulldozers, loaders, dump trucks, and other heavy equipment may seem easy to operate yet is far from the truth.
In the effort of avoiding accidents while also keeping the worksite safe and efficient, excavation companies must leave the operation of their equipment to only highly qualified and trained individuals.
5. Atmospheric Issues
A lesser-known hazard that must also be managed is the below-ground atmospheric change encountered when digging deep trenches.
Deeper trenches can quickly become depleted of oxygen, creating a health issue for workers.
Additionally, dangerous gases or chemicals can collect in the trenches as work continues, resulting in serious health hazards if not properly handled.
Excavation services must continuously manage the atmospheric conditions within excavation sites and deep trenches to prevent serious accidents.
Excavation Companies Can Avoid Common Worksite Hazards
Excavation work is a staple of most site preparation and construction jobs which can also be exceptionally dangerous when excavation services are not carefully and correctly done.
Keeping employees and work sites safe as well as providing skilled services to all customers requires that excavation companies know the unique hazards common with excavating or trenching and how to avoid accidents from happening.