Trenches and excavation sites represent a potential hazard in construction workplaces. Fortunately, several types of safety systems can help you protect your workforce effectively, including trench shields. Knowing which safety systems to use and when can mean the difference between successfully wrapping up a job or facing a preventable accident.
Whether you use them once a year or as part of every project, understanding the importance of trench shields is an integral piece of worksite safety. Read on to learn more!
A trench shield proactively safeguards workers from a wall collapse by withstanding the pressure from the surrounding soil when properly installed. These come in many types, including single- and double-walled shields and modular units, with available styles including aluminum trench shields and steel trench boxes. You can choose the appropriate material and style based on soil characteristics and trench depth.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues regulations for trench use. Excavations over 5 feet deep require a safety system installation when the surrounding walls are not 100% stable rock. For trenches 20 feet deep or more, a certified engineer must design or approve the safety system.
Additionally, OSHA mandates the presence of a competent professional to supervise trench work. This individual’s responsibilities include specialized training to identify potential hazards or impending collapse and performance of daily inspections. The qualified person must also determine whether a trench needs a safety system at depths less than 5 feet.
Successful trench box safety must be a priority for those engaged in construction excavation projects. Tips to stay compliant and protect your workforce’s well-being include: