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The Importance of Trench Shields

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!

Trench Safety Shield Types

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.

Are Trench Boxes Required for Every Excavation?

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.

Trench Shield Safety Tips

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:

  • Understand the trench shield’s limitations: These boxes help keep your crew safe in the event a collapse occurs — trench shields are static protection systems designed to protect workers inside them. Use additional shoring systems when necessary to prevent cave-ins.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: It’s vital to heed all the manufacturer’s directions and tabular data. That means installing your shield properly, stacking carefully, ensuring it’s accurately rated for the trench size and using end protection like road plates.
  • Inspect the shield before each installation and when conditions change: Trench shields often relocate as work progresses, which means more opportunities for spreader bars to bend or sustain other damage. As part of their comprehensive inspections, the competent person should thoroughly inspect the walls and frame pipes for structural integrity each time the crew assembles and reinstalls the shield.
  • Conduct workforce training with safety requirements: All team members assembling or working in trenches should receive adequate safety training and equipment. The training should be robust enough to cover accurate installation and cover what personal protection equipment is required when working in the trench.
  • Mind the gaps: A trench shield is naturally narrower than the trench surrounding it. Add backfill to help stabilize the box and fill the void.
  • Provide the proper egress: Adequate access and exit structures are necessary for safety. Ensure you follow OSHA directions for placing ladders or using structural ramps.

Improve Construction Site Safety With Trench Shields From Sage Rental Services

We carry a complete line of trench safety systems at our convenient Southeast Texas locations. Our product experts can help you find the ideal solution for your application with affordable prices and flexible rental periods.

Reserve yours by visiting your neighborhood Sage Rental Services location or contacting a specialist online or by phone.