In construction, some of the most dangerous operations are excavation and trenching. According to OSHA, a trench is “a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).”
The greatest risk when trenching is cave-ins, however, falls, hazardous atmospheres, falling loads and mobile equipment incidents are also responsible for fatalities every year.
In addition to using common sense and good safety practices in and around trenches, it’s important to:
- Use the appropriate protective system
- Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges
- Know where underground utilities are located,
- Test for low oxygen levels, hazardous gases, and fumes
- Be sure to have a competent person inspect trenches regularly, especially after rainstorms.
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