Why Excavation Is The Most Hazardous Construction Operation

Excavation is considered one of the most hazardous construction operations, and that’s for a very good reason. Trenches are the biggest hazard, as they can lead to serious injuries and even to the death of workers that fall into them, trip over equipment or debris or find themselves in a hazardous atmosphere. Unstable adjacent structures and mishandled or poorly placed materials can also trigger worker injuries. This is why excavation works need to follow strict standards and regulations in order to prevent such situations.

Out of all these hazards, one is particularly dangerous and should be treated with maximum care. Cave-ins are the greatest risk, as they are more likely than any other hazard to result in worker fatalities or severe injuries. This is the reason why each excavation project should be approached with great care and preparation. Inadequate initial planning may result in severe on-the-job accidents, as well as in an increase of the costs.

In case of trenches, it is of utmost importance that the walls are braced in order to prevent collapse. This process is called trench shoring. There are several methods for shoring up a trench. The most common one is hydraulic shoring. It uses hydraulic pistons which are pumped outward as needed, in order to hold the trench walls and prevent them from collapsing. These hydraulic pistons are used in combination with plates made from steel or from an extremely heavy plywood. The hydraulic method is preferred whenever a fast and easy solution is required. However, it isn’t always the best solution. In case of large excavations, soldier boarding or steel beams and plates may be used for securing the trench shoring. These solutions are also effective, but they need more resources in execution. This is why the initial planning of the whole excavation project is crucial for the safety of the workers and for the smoothness of the entire construction process.

The purpose of shoring is to prevent collapse and it is considered the safest measure for protecting the workers. Nonetheless, in some situations, shoring in replaced with shielding. Trench shields are meant to offer protection to the workers in the event of a collapse, but they can’t prevent this hazard. This is why most professionals in the construction industry recommend trench shoring as mandatory in any excavation project. Trenching and excavation hazards are detailed and addressed in official standards of the industry, standards which should be strictly followed by all construction companies.

Author, Cross-Culture Consultant, Intercultural Trainer. Trying to make something great of myself. I always wanted to do better than good enough.