Excavation, Trenching & Piping Safety

Essential Trenching, Piping, and Excavation Safety Tips

Last year, 15 workers died while working in trenches and excavations. By June of this year, there were 22 deaths resulting from similar incidents. This startling increase led to the implementation of stricter safety guidelines.

Enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will also be stringent. Employers failing to meet these new standards could face heavy penalties. Extreme cases may even result in criminal prosecutions at the federal or state level.

You can avoid this by following the excavation safety guidelines provided. Did you know there will be inspections by OSHA to promote trenching safety? Read on to find out more about piping safety.

What’s Trenching and Excavation Safety?

Road and highway excavation removes material from the ground to create a hole. If the depth of the hole is more significant than its width, it’s referred to as a trench.

Often, the work involves laying down a system of pipes underground. Pipe markings indicate the content of the pipes. They also outline any potential danger the contents may pose to workers.

There are many hazards associated with this seemingly straightforward process. As a result, trenching and excavation safety have become a priority. 

What are the Hazards of Working in Trenches and Excavations

Trenches and excavations are a critical part of many construction projects. Employers and workers should know the dangers involved. What are the four trench hazards?

  1. Falling into the trench or excavation site
  2. Becoming trapped after collapses or cave-ins
  3. The accumulation of water in the trench or flooding
  4. Excavated soil or equipment falling on workers

Cave-ins tend to occur more than any other hazard. These incidents are so dangerous that they often result in death.

What are the Safety Systems Used in a Trench?

Safety systems are an OSHA requirement. They may fall into one or more categories. These include excavation safety, trenching safety, and piping safety. Underlying each should be proper and in-depth safety training.

Excavation Safety

The process of removing material from the ground poses its own risk. It can involve accidents using the required equipment or excavation material. Employers can reduce these risks by ensuring workers:

  • Always wear safety equipment
  • Don’t stand close to vehicles during the loading and unloading process
  • Don’t place excavated material close to the trench

The standard distance should be two or more feet away.

Trenching Safety

Trenching safety usually focuses on ways to prevent cave-ins. There are standard safety systems. Some employers choose to build more complex ones. The aim is to:

  • Bench or slope the sides of the trench
  • Support the sides of the trench
  • Shield the sides of the trench from the work area

There are various approaches or methods that companies can use for each.

Piping Safety

Piping safety is a bit more straightforward. There are specific handling requirements. This helps to avoid any accidents while handling and transporting piping material.

The Ins and Outs of Excavation Safety, Trenching Safety, and Piping Safety

One of the top priorities of any organization is to protect its workers. This is even more crucial for companies undertaking hazardous work. Civil and engineering projects often involve trenching, piping and excavation.

These jobs can result in serious injury, even death if safety systems are not implemented. Companies must follow the guidelines set out by OSHA. These are specific to excavation safety, trenching safety, and piping safety.

Still uncertain what the requirements are for each?

Phase Associates can help. We provide on-site evaluations, inspections, and many other construction safety requirements. Contact us to learn more.

We service NJ, PA, NY, DE, GA, VA and MD.