Construction sites are some of the most dangerous workplaces you can enter. Between heavy machinery, complex tasks, and often hazardous materials, you must be mindful of many things to keep yourself and others safe on-site.
The good news is that a safe site is also an efficient one. So, by putting safety first, you’ll also be helping to ensure that your projects run smoothly and meet deadlines.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of essential tips for maintaining a hazard-free excavation site. Follow these tips on all projects, both big and small, and you’ll get things done right, and safely, the first time.
With any project, there will be a host of environmental factors that must be considered and accounted for in order to maintain acceptable working conditions. While you cannot control your environment, you can control how you interact with it, which is key for safety. All sites should be carefully marked out, signed, and secured to ensure that no pedestrians can injure themselves or fall into a hole. But establishing fences and boundaries is only the beginning of your safety checklist for your site.
Understand Your Workspace
Before any work commences, you must understand the hazards in the space you’ll be working within.
Because of this, the first thing you need to do upon arrival is to obtain a detailed area plan. This plan must show where all utilities are located within the site if they are present. This includes underground services likely to interfere with your excavation, such as water or gas lines, sewage pipes, and overhead utilities like power lines.
These utilities should be physically located and checked to ensure their path through the site is known, and all depths are verified. Mark each service as you come across it so that all staff on site are aware of potential hazards, their locations, and details of their possible impact on work.
Keep an Eye on Things
Your duty to understand your environment doesn’t stop once you’ve completed all steps to make the site safe before works commence. All outdoor spaces are constantly changing nature, but this change is amplified on a construction site due to the nature of your work.
This is why it is essential to conduct inspections daily to ensure that everything is still as it should be. We strongly suggest following the excavation checklist and documenting each inspection. Hence, records are available if ever required, and everyone is kept in the loop as to the condition of the site.
Additional inspections should be conducted at shift changeovers and following any significant weather events such as storms, high winds or rain. Never underestimate the impact the climate can have on your site, especially if you’ve already completed a decent amount of excavation.
Personal and Team Safety
Just because you have done everything you can to ensure your site is safe does not mean that team members working on-site will automatically be safe. Additional steps should always be taken to enhance and ensure the safety of all personnel.
Maintain Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at All Times
Wearing appropriate PPE at all times when on site is crucial to the safety of all team members. Not only do industry regulations (and the law) require such equipment, but they also play a significant role in helping keep everyone safe and are quite good at their job when worn correctly.
With that in mind, no work must start until everybody wears the appropriate gear. Everybody wants to go home safe at the end of the day, which is one of the main ways you can help ensure that happens.
It is also important to ensure that excavation support systems, such as shoring, benching and battering, are used when needed — think of them as PPE for your site.
Keep Everyone in the Loop
Paperwork isn’t fun for anyone, and we completely understand that some people get into construction as a way to avoid it. However, unfortunately, it is a necessary evil. If the correct procedures and other documents aren’t available, you are in breach of laws and regulations, and your team is at risk.
Always keep everyone in the loop as to what is going on on-site, especially if new hazards have been identified, and ensure that all team members are properly trained for working on excavation sites.
Even though it’s your job to do so, you’re creating hazards every time you dig a hole or trench, so everyone must have a solid understanding of what’s happening and how to keep themselves safe.
Trained Eyes on the Prize
Spotters are some of the most valuable members of your crew and work hard to perform a vital function — keeping their team members safe. Always ensure that you have a confident and adequately trained spotter for any activity where there is a risk of interaction with dangerous environmental factors such as underground utilities, tight spaces or overhead power lines.
Finally, in addition to ensuring that your site and staff are safe, it’s essential not to forget about your machinery and any excavation support systems your job may require. Your excavators and other equipment work just as hard as your crew on a day-to-day basis, and they also deserve some care. In addition to ensuring all repairs and maintenance are carried out as soon as they’re required, you should also keep an eye on equipment while it’s on-site.
Regularly Check All Machinery
Each time you need to use your excavator or other equipment, perform a walk-around inspection before jumping in and getting to work. You’ll want to check for any fluids that may be leaking, damage that has appeared, or anything else that doesn’t look quite right. If something is wrong, don’t use the machine. We understand that you have deadlines, but it’s better to end up a little behind than risk the safety of your crew.
Never take shortcuts, always follow procedures, check in with your crew regularly, and follow these tips to help ensure a safe and efficient working environment. Excavation is one of the most dangerous tasks completed on a construction site, so it’s vital to get things right.
To find out more about our extensive range of products and temporary work solutions, call 1300 SHORE HIRE, or find your nearest branch.