Civil contractors should not endanger the lives of the workers into carrying out dangerous constructions works, especially digging functions. Digging may look like a harmless work, but it depends on the site and on the purpose of the work itself. Since most digging functions at construction projects involve daylighting and installing underground utilities and trenching and building foundations of edifices, the work becomes dangerous indeed. How can digging works become dangerous? How can contractors ensure a safe digging work?
In construction work, there are two factors that can make digging or excavation dangerous:
- The presence of underground utilities like water and petroleum pipelines, electric cable, telecommunications fibre optics, drainage and sewage systems
- The nature of certain works which includes digging a very deep excavation and using dangerous equipment and tools for digging
It is important that civil contractors pinpoint the location of buried facilities on their proposed excavation area before they commence any sort of digging work. They can contact the utility owners through the ‘call before you dig’ hotlines to verify the presence of the utilities they are supposed to locate (and protect). What could go wrong if they do not contact the utility owners?
For one, they will never know if there are any buried utilities present and they will only know it if they strike it. For two, they can disrupt the services that utility companies are providing to their clients. For three, certain hazards will occur, putting the worker’s lives at risk. Lastly, the civil contractors will be brought to court who will order them to pay damages. These are such things that can go wrong.
On the other hand, the nature of the excavation work can be dangerous. There are times workers are careless. They know their work is dangerous yet they do not implement safety rules and guidelines. For instance, they excavate very deep trenches but park their heavy equipment and pile debris near the edge of the trench. It should not be so. Equipment should be parked and debris piled a few metres away from the trench to prevent caving incidents.
Moreover, excavation works become dangerous if heavy equipment is used on dangerous grounds. It will not be advisable to operate an excavator or backhoe to excavate an area that has buried electric cables. That poses the risk of electrocution. The danger is worse if you strike a live wire with a pick or shovel.
To prevent excavation/trenching hazards and ensure safe digging works, civil contractors and workers will need to:
- Locate buried utilities before they dig.
- Contact the concerned utility companies to disconnect services.
- Secure excavation sites by putting up warning and no-entry signs and installing fences to keep children and other on-lookers away.
- Park heavy equipment and pile rocks and other excavated debris a few meters away from the trenches.
- Test every trench for toxic gases, low oxygen, fumes and other atmospheric hazards.
- Strictly implement occupational safety guidelines and formulate evacuation plans.
- Provide emergency exits.
- Practice non-destructive digging methods including vacuum excavation.
Civil contractors need to push for safe working conditions for their workers. They need to implement certain practices and methods including non-destructive digging so workers will need not to worry about their safety as they dig and perform other duties.
Are you looking for a civil contractor who offers non-destructive digging services? Contact Yunz Contracting for safe, tidy and professional excavation and trenching service. Go to our website to know more about our ASP contracting services.