So you have rented the equipment, the project manager has finalised the plans and you are ready to strap on your hard hat and begin to dig. Before the project kicks off and you start to dig, it is critical that everyone on site is fully aware of the safety rules and regulations regarding excavation. If you are not crystal clear on the regulations you can download the free PDF from Safe Work Australia.
Here are a few basic tips needing review each time you begin an excavation project—whether big or small. These safety tips will not only make the excavation project run smoothly, it will ensure that you operate a safe and hazard free work site at all times.
Know the hazards in the area: Obtain correct drafts of where the utilities (water, sewerage, gas) are located on the excavation site. Then before digging begins ensure that all utilities are clearly marked and the depth is verified.
Do regular safety checks: Before work begins do a walk around inspection of all equipment before use. Be diligent in checking all fluids and fixing any maintenance problems immediately. Demand any and all repairs are complete before operation – even when time restraints are tough never take a short cut.
Put Safety first: Be diligent in ensuring that everyone is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times as per the industry regulations.Never start work until everyone is wearing all PPE, even if it seems small and insignificant. Yes you may be labelled the project fun buster, however at least no one will be injured on your watch.
Always have a spotter: Designate a confident spotter on sites where overhead power lines are present, underground utilities are marked or working space is tight.
Secure the project site: Ensure the excavation site is gated off from the public and marked clearly. The last thing you want is someone to walk into an open excavation site and injure themselves.
Constant inspections: Using the excavation checklist make certain that routine inspections are carried out and documented. This is generally done at the beginning of each day, shift changeovers and after some bad weather (like rain storms or wind).
Duty of care: Always keep employees up to date and aware of the hazards and correct work procedures associated with working around excavation sites and trenches.
Even though it may seem insignificant or a waste of time, never ever take a short cut. For excavation is one of the most hazardous construction operations, therefore it is vital that all rules and regulations are adhered to at all times. This makes it a safe site for everyone involved.