Types of Protective Systems for Trenching and General Trenching Safety Tips
Cave-ins are the biggest safety risk associated with trenching. Protective systems can help prevent these hazardous collapses and ultimately help prevent fatalities and serious injuries for your crews. Below are the most common types of protective systems and strategies for trenching.
- Sloping – This protective tactic requires crews to chisel back the wall of the trench at an angle in the opposite direction of excavation. It is often called “open cut,” and it is frequently chosen over other protective methods and solutions due to its low costs and because it works with most soil types.
- Shielding – This is the use of trench boxes or other similar structures to help prevent cave-ins of soil. Shielding and the use of trench boxes is specifically useful when your crews want to make the trench walls steeper and the work area narrower.
- Shoring – The use of soldier pile, sheet pile, aluminum hydraulic, and other similar supports makes shoring a viable option for providing extra protection and lowering the chances of cave-ins. Depending on the materials used, shoring can be the costliest type of protective system.
Here are some additional trenching safety tips you should keep in mind as well:
- Make sure your crews never work in a trench without some kind of protective system.
- Hire a registered engineer to design and check protective systems in trenches that are over 20 feet deep. This is what OSHA
- Inspect trenches for safety issues at the beginning of every shift.
- Provide safe access to work areas in trenches with things like ladders and ramps.
- Make sure heavy equipment stays far away from trench edges. Heavy equipment that gets too close to edges can pose serious safety issues.