Trenches are present in almost all earthworks such as foundation excavation, underground utilities installation, irrigations, and more. Unfortunately, statistic says that about 80% of excavation deaths occur in the construction industry due to trench collapses.
As a consequence, the use of trench protection has become a mandatory requirement. Whether it is a minor cable installation job, household pipelaying, or a massive excavation work for building foundation, a certified trench shield or trench shoring system must be in place when required by the criterions stated in the OSHA Manual.
As of today, global market offers many trench protection products to choose from, all are compliant to OSHA requirements and other standards in excavation safety. The thing now is how to shortlist or pick the most efficient type of protection according to the conditions of your excavation and trenching project.
This brief guide will help you identify your trusted manufacturer and select the most ideal product for your need.
Trench Shields: Construction Safety Essentials
A trench shield, also known as a trench box, should always be made of high-grade steel or aluminum. These shields will be lining the sides of an excavation site to protect workers inside the trenches. Therefore, the material should have enough integrity to prevent cave-ins or collapses.
Trench shields consist of two modular panels on either side. Between these panels, you will have struts or spreaders of adjustable length. The function of these spreaders is to hold the panels in place from either side along the site's walls.
A quality trench shields manufacturer should offer a variety of dimensions and capacities in their panels and spreaders. They should also be able to guarantee that their shields strictly comply with the requirement of OSHA standards. This ensures that employees within the trench will be protected from hazards.
Trench Shield Installation Parameters
Before installing trench shields, there are a few details that must be established. Firstly, the purpose of your excavation project determines what size trench you need. Obviously, large pipes and thin wires require different sizes of trenches. There's no use in building a larger trench than is necessary. The right trench shields supplier should be able to accommodate your specific project.
Depth of the required excavation and the easement of the surrounding is also a very important factor to consider when deciding the extent and type of trench protection to choose. Sloping or benching of trench sides combined with a shield at the trench bottom is allowed as long as the conditions in the OSHA standards are met. This can substantially reduce the expenses in purchasing or renting trench boxes but of course, this is only possible in open and areas without nearby buildings or structures.
Furthermore, you should also be wary of obstructions in the path of your planned trench. A knowledgeable trench shields manufacturer should assist in avoiding or clearing these obstructions.
Even knowledge of what type of soil you plan on excavating in will prove a crucial detail. This will affect what excavation equipment your project will need. OSHA classifies soil as Stable Rock, Type A, Type B, and Type C. Knowing the soil classification in the project site is essential in determining the ratings of the trench shield to employ.
The capacity of the lifting equipment is also a contributing factor as to the choice of box or shield. Project sites with crane has nothing to worry and can pick any size and weight of box or shield. But most sites usually utilize excavators to install shoring or shielding system wherein safe lifting capacity are strictly observed. In the worst scenario where using any lifting equipment is impossible due to space limitations, shielding or shoring systems which are site-assembled or fabricated are mandatory.
OSHA-trained competent person must also inspect your site for other potential hazards. You will want a trench shield supplier that can assist you at every step of the process.
Don't Wait to Put Your Construction Project In the Best Hands
Construction safety is no place where you can afford to take the easy route. Trench work bears too many risks to not proceed with maximum research and caution.
At ESC Trench, we offer a variety of trench shields guaranteed to last. Whether you're looking to buy or rent, our trench boxes comply with all OSHA standards.
Want to know how our trench shields can meet the needs of your unique excavation project? Contact us today and let us show you how we bring maximum safety to your site.