If you need to dig a large trench on your property or for a work-related project, you need to make sure that you approach the process with safety at the forefront of your mind. Digging a trench is a process of precision that can be dangerous if not approached properly. That is why safety should be a top priority.
#1 Always Check With the Utility Companies
Before doing any digging, always check with the utility companies. This is true no matter how small or big the job is. You always want to know where gas, electricity, and water lines are located before you start digging. You don't want to run into one of those lines; it could delay your project and be expensive to fix. Plus, someone could get hurt.
#2 Have a Plan for the Dirt
Do not just start digging and piling the dirt up next to the edge of the trench. You need to have a plan for the dirt. Where will the dirt go? Will you have multiple locations for the dirt? Will you need to fill in the trench later with the same dirt that you are digging out? Or can you do something else with the dirt?
Think critically about where to put the dirt and what you are going to do with it. All piles of dirt should be a couple of feet away from the edge of your trenches. You don't want the dirt sliding back into the trench and filling it back in. Even worse, you don't want the dirt sliding back into the trench and covering someone up with the dirt. Keep the dirt away from the edge of the trench for safety reasons.
#3 Check the Air Quality
Next, anytime that you are digging deep, you need to be aware of air quality. If your trench is deep enough that you can stand in it and dig it out, you need to be checking the air quality. Make sure that there is an air tester on site, and use it to test for low oxygen levels as well as toxic gases and fumes. Toxic gases and fumes can get stuck instead of dirt, and released through digging, so you always want to error on the side of caution. Check the air quality frequently to make sure everyone who is digging will be safe.
#4 Use Trench Boxes
If you are digging a deep trench, use trench boxes. Trench boxes are boards that you put inside of the trench to ensure that the walls of the trench remain stable. Trench boxes are designed to protect again cave-ins. They are another tool for staying safe when digging a trench.
When digging a trench, always put safety first. Check for utility lines. Have a plan for the dirt. Check the air quality and support the walls of the trench with trench boxes to prevent a soil cave-in. Always work together, never alone. Contact a trenching service for more help.