With 20 years of experience in the Vacuum Excavation industry, PIER (UK) pride themselves on putting safe excavation and the safety of everyone on-site at the top of their priority list. Excavation safety is a combination of safety precautions in and around excavation areas and trenches in order to eliminate or control any potential hazards.
Safe excavation and groundwork are an integral part of modern construction work, but with Health and Safety regulations continually changing, ensuring that the job is completed in an efficient and safe manner can sometimes be a challenge to workers.
The PIER (UK) team have compiled 5 of their top tips for safe excavation.
Establish what you will be up against
The most important aspect of safe excavation is knowing what lies beneath as modern roads and pavements contain huge complex networks of pipes and cables. More than ever, you need to ensure that your team are prepared for the unexpected.
Plan your work and fully brief your staff
Many on-site incidents can be prevented if potential risks are correctly mediated and the workers are prepared for all cases. Ensuring you take the time to properly brief your staff is vital as everyone will need to be equipped to deal with any scenario.
Choose the correct method and expose safely
Safe excavation cannot be left up to chance as there are times where a spade and shovel cause too many incidents. With modern excavation techniques such as Vacuum Excavation, the amount of contact necessary between on-site workers and the buried services is severally limited. It is also a quicker, more efficient and cost-efficient method.
Vacuum Excavation has become a very popular method to safely excavate around buried surfaces. The high-powered remove excavation arm on the truck will quickly remove debris from the area, meaning that no manual digging is required.
If you chose to excavate using traditional methods, it is vital that all workers on-site understand the potential risks involved and they are able to use detection tools, as well as practice safe excavation techniques by only manually digging and avoid using dangerous power tools.
Wear appropriate clothing
No matter what site you are working on, you always need to ensure that your workers are wearing appropriate clothing. If you decide on exposing the surface manually, working with a bare chest can increase the risk of severe burns and man-made fibres can melt into the skin. In the unfortunate event that a live electric cable or a gas pipe is struck, wearing specially designed protective clothing could save a life.
Update your plans
If a change occurs such as unearthing an unexpected pipe, you and your team may not be prepared to meet this update and you must not continue with the original plan. Adapt your plan accordingly to incorporate the change and ensure that your team are briefed again and the risk assessment is amended. This will cover you from a Health and Safety perspective and will also help to minimise the risk of costly service strikes.
As the industry leaders in Vacuum Excavation, PIER (UK) will listen carefully to their customers’ requirements and provide a solution that is suitable for the job at hand.