Ensuring excavation safety is an essential part of modern contractor work, the law states that no excavation work should be carried out until the area is completely safe. Failing to secure an excavation site correctly can have disastrous consequences for workers and management, resulting in delays, injury and even death.
One of the main causes of accidents on-site is poor preparation. Injuries from trench collapse or serious utility strikes could be avoided with correct planning and through the use of modern ground survey techniques such as Ground Penetration Radar.
According to the HSE Guidelines on preventing accidents in excavation, there are 6 essential steps that must be taken by the manager and on-site workers before and during the excavation work.
The steps a manager must take:
- Ensure that the excavations are made safe by using trench supports or other effective measures.
- Be aware that there is no safe minimum depth of excavation.
- Providing training for your team which highlights all risk (big and small).
- Ensure that adequate inspections are carried out on all excavations on a weekly basis, especially after any bad weather.
- Provide competent supervision.
- Ensure that the plant doesn’t work too close to the edge of an excavation.
The steps the on-site workers must take:
- Never go into an unsupported trench where there is a risk of a collapse.
- Never work outside the protection of trench boxes or trench supports.
- Keep the plant at a safe distance from the excavation edge.
- Never work underneath an excavator.
- Be alert to the risks from underground services or undermining adjacent structures.
- Maintain fencing and other safety measures in order to protect others.
An increasing number of contractors are opting for more modern methods as a way of ensuring excavation safety on-site. Excavation techniques such as Vacuum Excavation is considered to be the more safe and reliable way to excavate.
Vacuum Excavator’s are able to excavate up to 4m3 per hour without requiring any manual labour or the use of mechanical diggers. The large suction arm is remotely operated from a safe distance, ensuring that the area is clear until all pipework has been exposed and greatly reduces the risk of any personal injuries or service strikes.
Although Vacuum Excavation costs more than the traditional excavation methods, companies within the Construction, Utility and Highway industries are being won over by the speed, efficiency and array of safety benefits.
Vacuum Excavator’s may prove to be particularly useful following on from the announcement of a nation wide ‘lane rental’ scheme and are increasingly being utilised to speed-up the work on construction sites in built-up areas.
“We are pleased to see more people adopting the use of Vacuum Excavators. Excavation safety has always been of the upmost importance to us here at PIER (UK) are we are pleased to see the rest of the industry adopting similar practices. We are proud to have the UK’s largest fleet of Vacuum Excavators and we can provide a solution for almost any terrain, whether it is on a highway, city centres or even oof-road.”
– Sean Quinn, Managing Director of PIER (UK).
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.