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Hazards in Excavation

Hazards in Excavation

Excavation is one of the most important segments of any construction activity. Due to insufficient attention to the safety aspects, it sometimes becomes a major hazard and cause of many serious accidents. Excavation is dangerous irrespective of its depth. Even small excavations may cause serious accidents.

To ensure the safety of those involved, excavation work has to be properly planned, managed, supervised and executed in order to prevent accidents. Persons involved at all stages should be aware of the hazards involved and the procedures in place to control the risks associated with this type of work.




The common hazards associated with excavation are:

* Contact with underground utilities
* Soil collapse
* Contact with overhead power lines
* Fall of material
*Vehicle traffic 
*Nearby structures
*Access / egress to the excavation
*Atmosphere hazards


*Prior to excavation, the identified excavation location must be examined for the availability of underground utilities (such as water pipelines electrical conduit systems, and other civic facilities). In case of availability, the utility services must be isolated before excavation.

*Use insulated tools for manual excavation to avoid contact with electrical utilities

*Proper access (stairs, ladders or ramps) to be provided where workmen’s are required to enter / exit the excavated area.

*Excavation must be free from cave-in and cracks.

*No materials shall be kept at the edge of the excavated area.

*Sloping or benching must be provided to avoid collision of soil. Whenever sloping / benching is not possible shoring to be done.

*To prevent fall of earth due to vibration, traffic should not be allowed near the excavated area.

*Hard barricading must be provided to avoid fall of person/vehicles.

*Provide Caution boards & Traffic control signs near excavations.

*Illumination shall be adequately provided for night work.

*During the hours of darkness all public sidewalks and walkways shall be adequately illuminated and warning lights shall be placed in proper sites to ensure safety of pedestrians and the vehicular traffic.

*Supervisors shall inspect edges of excavation every day before starting the work and during the course of excavation.

*A competent person shall inspect the excavated area after every rain, storm, dynamic load acted, etc. before commencing the work.

*It shall be ensured that no harmful gases or fumes are present in the trench to such a degree as may endanger the health or safety of persons working in them.

*Do not allow water to accumulate in excavations

*Avoid jumping into or across trenches

*Do not work underneath loads handled by lifting or digging equipment, stand away from any vehicle being loaded or unloaded

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