Because trench work is such a hazardous line of work, contractors and their workers use trench shields to help them get their work done. A trench shield is built strong to handle the pressure of unstable soil and provide a safe space and protects workers in the event that a trench collapses. They are used to secure the walls of large excavated trenches. Their purpose is to ensure the safety of workers in the trenches. They can effectively cover large areas of depth of trenches, eliminating the possibility of a cave-in. Trench shields can be used for several kinds of projects, such as:
Sizing the trench shield you use is very important. To size a trench shield you should:
The handling and assembling of a trench shield should be conducted by:
Trenches normally are formed on borrowed time and depending upon the material of the surrounding ground and the depth of the trench, it will cave-in at some point. The purpose of the trench shield is to widen the utility worker’s window to work within the trenches before caving in begins to occur. This is why is extremely important to pick the right kind of trench shield for each project.
As stated, the most common materials used for trench shields are steel and aluminum. The strength of these materials will allow for a rigid wall to be maintained while the workers work which helps extend the amount of time that the shield works. Unstable soil pressure can harm crews if it collapses while the crew is still in the trenches working. Especially if a team is busy focusing on projects such as digging a foundation, laying wiring or working on pipes.
The safety of the workers in the trenches should always be the number one priority and this should determine the decision on what type of material to use. However, using this kind of thought process also provides another benefit, an economical one. Keeping these priorities in mind allows for the safest but also the best system to serve economically. When weighing the safety of workers, the following should be considered:
Make sure your operators are properly trained – Thoroughly train operators to avoid potential dangers while on the job. All operators and supervisors should receive training on proper handling and assembly of trench shields.
Make sure the trench shield has been properly sized – Knowing the scope of your job is imperative to choosing the correct trench box – large enough to provide protection but light enough for the equipment being used on the site. Develop a checklist that addresses the following:
To ensure safety when using trench shields always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines – Always read the manufacturer’s directions before assembling a shield. Make sure all components are supplied by the manufacturer, including the spreader pins. Rebar, bolts, pipe or other materials should not be substituted for the spreader pins.
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