Eiffel 101: Trenching Safety Checklist
Excavation can be dangerous for workers due to the risk of cave-ins. For this reason, it’s important to plan for safe excavation work, including ordering utility locates, providing shoring or shielding equipment, and planning traffic control. The Competent Person (an official role) is responsible for managing safety on the excavation site, and they must be able to anticipate and fix dangerous conditions. Excavation workers should also know the dangers of their work and how to protect themselves.
Before excavation, the Competent Person should complete a safety inspection, which includes the following checklist. By completing this checklist, the safety of the workers can be ensured before construction begins.
Trench Location and Dimensions
- Utility locates should be contacted at least two days prior to start of digging. They should also be appropriately marked and identified.
- Underground installations should be secured, supported, or removed when the excavation is open.
- Surface impediments such as utilities, utility poles, foundations, transformer vaults or other structures should be strengthened or removed.
- Equipment operators should be aware of overhead uninsulated powerlines and the required approach distances.
Excavation / Trench
- Soil should be classified using one visual and one manual method.
- Employees should be shielded from loose rock or soil.
- All employees should be wearing proper protective equipment.
- Spoils, materials, and equipment should be set back at least two feet from the edge of excavation.
- The work area should be identified using barricades, fencing, or some other physical barrier.
- A traffic control plan should be completed and implemented.
- High visible clothing should be worn by all employees exposed to traffic.
- Excavations six feet or deeper with walkways or bridges should be equipped with guardrails.
- Employees should be prohibited from working or walking under suspended loads.
- Employees should be prohibited from working on faces of sloped or benched excavations above other employees.
- A warning system should be established and used when mobile equipment is operating near the edge of the excavation.
- A means of escape in the form of ladders, steps, ramps, etc. should be provided so that no employee must travel farther than 25 feet to exit the trench.
- If ladders are used for exit, they should be secured and extend at least three feet above the top of the excavation.
- If wood ramps are used for exiting, they should be constructed of uniform material thickness and cleated together at the bottom.
- All employees entering the trench should have documented training on requirements for excavation and protective measures.
- Precautions should be taken to protect employees from hazards posed by water accumulation.
- When water removal equipment is in operation, it should be monitored by the Competent Person.
- Surface water should be collected or diverted.
- An inspection of the excavation, adjacent areas, and protective system should be performed and documented after each rainstorm.
- Where a hazardous atmosphere could reasonably exist, the atmosphere should be tested for low or high oxygen, hazardous vapors, and toxic gasses before employees enter the excavation.
- Emergency response equipment should be readily available where a hazardous atmosphere could exist.
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