Tips for Safe Excavations

When it comes to safety and damage prevention, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that it is the responsibility of both the management and the workers. Almost every work environment has been documented in detail by OSHA, with a significant focus on excavation and digging safely, including hydro excavations.

So let’s take a look at some of OSHA’s recommendations when it comes to excavation safety.

Tips for Excavation Safety

Setting Up the One-Call System

The first steps involve setting up a One-Call system, a group messaging and calling system that is normally free. With this system, you send out excavation information as per the client and state’s requirements with a direct line to the emergency contact information.

For the best results, your one-call system should directly lead to the on-site safety crew, and not 911.

Cordoning off & Securing the Site

Regardless of the type of pipeline being built (transport, water, electrical, or gas), it is important to block traffic and restrict site access to authorized personnel so you can make sure debris doesn’t fall on bystanders or they don’t fall in an open excavation and bring a lawsuit down on you. It’s also recommended that you provide personnel with suitable high visibility clothing if they are working around or near vehicular traffic

It’s also recommended that you maintain a good relationship with the local community, as they can play a significant role in reporting unusual conditions and suspicious activity near the excavation site.

Additional Excavation Safety Tips

Here are further guidelines to keep in mind;

  • Know the hazards. These include knowing the most common causes of excavation accidents, which can be related to: o Soil type o Moisture content o Vibration o Adjacent buildings and structures o Adjacent weight (surcharge) o Vibration and pressure reducing soil stability
    • Previous disturbances of the soil
    • Weather
  • Also pay attention to issues with personnel and equipment. These include:
    • Falling objects and material o Equipment mishaps
    • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Identifying any underground utilities in the area before starting the excavation.
  • Making sure there are no gases , hazardous materials,  or other atmospheric concerns like low oxygen on the site, particularly in the enclosed areas.
  • Identifying any leaking, damaged, or poorly supported pipelines and conditions.  Keeping an eye out for dead vegetation, frozen/cold soil, ice next to pipelines, and other temperature and weather related conditions.
  • Inspect the trenches and excavations at the start of each shift.
  • Keep heavy equipment away from the edges of any excavation.

These are just some of the tips that you should keep in mind when excavating a site. Having experts helping you research and inform all your decisions is a great way to avoid liability and potential loss.

Americom’s experts are here to help you no matter the scope of the project or the complexity of the site. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you make informed decisions about the soil and other working conditions,  schedule a worksite assessment, or engage our excavating expertise, get in touch with us!

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