OSHA Safety Manuals | excavation
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Excavations Are Serious Business Excavations and trenches need not be deep or large to create a life threatening hazard. Soil is heavy, and failures take place with little or no notice. You can be trapped before there is time to react. So it is important that every excavation be prepared correctly, allowing you to complete your job safely and efficiently. Remember that every trench is different. Soil type, moisture content, depth, configuration, proximity to existing structures, and location of spoil piles all work together to make every excavation unique. Keep these points in mind when working: Follow the recommendations of your...

Trenching Safety A trench is a narrow channel (up to 15 feet wide), generally deeper than it is wide, made below the surface of the ground. An excavation is any man-made hole or trench that is made by removing earth. Trenching is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction activities. The greatest risk is a cave-in and even a small job can present serious safety hazards. The key to preventing this type of accident is good planning. Each year in the United States trenching cave-ins result in hundreds of serious injuries and dozens of deaths. Trenches are needed to build roads,...

Foundation Construction Foundation construction can involve power and cutting tools, excavations, the use of concrete and mortar, and other techniques that require training and proper safety equipment. First, wear personal protective equipment suitable for the job.  Safety shoes protect your feet from crushing injuries and punctures.  Long pants and sleeves protect your skin from cuts, scratches, and exposure to chemicals and concrete.  A hard hat protects your head from falling items and bumps.  Wear leather gloves when moving equipment and materials, wear chemical resistant gloves if you work with chemicals and concrete.  Consider hearing protection and a respirator for specific job sites...

Engulfment In many worksite situations, workers are at risk for engulfment hazards. Engulfment results when a worker is surrounded and overcome by a granular substance such as soil, sand, gravel, sawdust, seed, grain or flour or if submerged in a liquid such as water or a chemical. Engulfment causes physical harm when the material has enough force on the body to cause injury or death by constriction, crushing, or strangulation. Respiratory hazards associated with engulfment includes suffocation from breathing in a fine substance that fills the lungs or from drowning in a liquid. Trenches or excavation pits at construction sites pose an...

Trenching and Shoring Construction trenching for buried utilities, pipelines, water transport, and other activities may be hazardous. Trenches are usually deeper than they are wide and the walls may become unstable and collapse on top of workers. Trench cave-ins occur when dirt, sand, and rocks collapse into the trench. These materials can engulf, injure, or kill workers in the trench. Soil can be very dense and heavy. When it engulfs workers, it can break bones, immobilize and restrict breathing, or suffocate them outright. First, get training in trenching and shoring procedures. If workers will be entering a trench 5 feet or deeper, you...

Excavations An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, hole, trench, or depression made in the earth’s surface by the removal of soil. Workers in excavations can be exposed to cave-ins, engulfment, hazardous atmospheres, and falls. Excavation safety training and procedures prevent serious injuries and accidents. Before work on an excavation can begin, surface hazards such as unstable buildings, sidewalks, etc. that could endanger employees must be secured or removed. Hazards below the ground must also be identified and made safe before work can begin. Call 811 at least 2 days before the excavation. They will contact utilities so that representatives can determine...