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Everything You Should Know About Trench Safety

Trench Safety

Brush up on the basics of trench safety so that everyone is kept safe on the job.

There are lots of safety concerns on a construction site, and one of the biggest concerns excavation and trenching. Excavation is defined by OSHA as any man-made cut, trench, or depression in the surface of the earth that has been made by earth removal. Trench is more specifically defined as an underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide and is no wider than 15 feet. These characteristics are what makes trenching so much more dangerous than the average excavation because there is a risk of falls, falling loads, and cave-ins. The risk of cave-ins is what makes trenching the greatest risk of accident-related fatalities, with trench collapse resulting in dozens of fatalities each year. Read on for everything you need to know about trenches and trench safety.

Safety Systems

Do not enter trenches that don’t have a necessary safety system. Some examples include systems that slope the walls back at an angle, systems that shore up the walls with supports, or systems that shield the workers with a box. Trenches that are more than 5 feet deep require a safety system unless the trench walls are solid rock, and trenches more than 20 feet deep require that the safety system is designed by a professional engineer.  

Competent Inspection

OSHA requires that trenches be inspected daily and after any conditions change by a competent person. This is because the safety of the trench and the appropriateness of the safety system are based on factors that can change, like water content of the soil. So after it rains, or after the trench is deepened, it will need to be inspected again before anyone enters it. A competent person is someone who is skilled at identifying potential and existing safety issues and concerns and who is authorized to take corrective measures when those issues are discovered.

Safe Access

In addition to the above safety precautions, any trench that is more than four feet deep must have safe and convenient ways to enter and exit it. This could mean that there are ladders, steps, or even sloped ramps for workers to use. These means of access and egress must be within 25 feet of all workers in the trench. This means that if your trench is 50 feet long, you must have at least a means of egress at each end.

Other Safety Considerations

Some trench safety is the same as with any other excavation. Keep heavy equipment away from the edges and keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet from the edge. Do not work under raised loads. Finally, make sure that you know where underground utilities are located and test often for fumes and gasses.

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Reliable Contracting Company serves the following and surrounding counties: Annapolis, Queen Anne’s, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Howard, Prince George, St. Mary’s, Talbot, and Washington D.C.

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Serving Maryland's Commercial & Residential Builders & Developers Since 1928 Reliable Contracting Company, Inc. maintains a reputation as a leader in the construction industry. Our clientele includes builders, developers, individuals and government agencies. With projects ranging in cost from $10,000 to over $10 million, Reliable can be seen working on Maryland's roads, highways, airports, office parks, shopping centers, hospitals, churches, and residential neighborhoods earning our reputation by providing clients with consistent quality and dedication to their projects. Reliable Contracting Co., Inc. is a Proud Member of the following organizations: Associated Builders and Contractors, Chesapeake Chapter - www.abc-chesapeake.org Maryland Asphalt Association - www.mdasphalt.org Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association - www.mtbma.org National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA) - www.asphaltpavement.org West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce - www.waaccc.org Leadership Anne Arundel - www.leadershipaa.org National Federation of Independent Business - www.nfib.com U.S. Chamber of Commerce - www.uschamber.com Homebuilders Association of MD - www.homebuilders.org
2410 Evergreen Road
Gambrills
MD
21054
USA
Serving Maryland's Commercial & Residential Builders & Developers Since 1928 Introduction Reliable Contracting Company, Inc. maintains a reputation as a leader in the construction industry. Our clientele includes builders, developers, individuals and government agencies. With projects ranging in cost from $10,000 to over $10 million, Reliable can be seen working on Maryland's roads, highways, airports, office parks, shopping centers, hospitals, churches, and residential neighborhoods earning our reputation by providing clients with consistent quality and dedication to their projects.
2410 Evergreen Road, Suite 200
Gambrills
MD
21054
USA