Greater Aawareness of Trench Collapse Dangers

The British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding construction workers
of the dangers they face when working in excavations following recent
fatalities caused by trench collapses. These could have been avoided if the
appropriate safety measures had been taken.

HSE Specialist Inspector Nigel Thorpe said:

"Trench collapses are entirely avoidable. Without suitable support, any face of
an excavation will collapse; it's just a matter of when. The steeper and deeper
the face, the wetter the soil, the sooner the collapse."

"Trenchless technologies are available which avoid many of the hazards of
excavation, but if a trench is required modern proprietryproprietary systems
allow the ground support to be installed without the need to enter the

Practical advice on working in excavations is available from HSE, and includes:

  • if appropriate, using trenchless technology such as directional drilling or
    impact moling, to avoid the need to excavate a trench in the first place;

  • if a trench is used, preventing the sides and the ends of trenches from
    collapsing by battering them to a safe angle or supporting them with
    proprietary support systems, trench sheets or timber;

  • providing suitable edge protection to prevent persons or materials falling
    into the excavation, and not entering unsupported excavations;

  • avoiding surcharging the ground adjacent to the excavation with plant,
    stored materials, spoil or foundation loads from existing structures;

  • never working ahead of the support;

  • ensuring there is a suitable means of access and egress;

  • remembering that work in shallow trenches can be dangerous, i.e. if the
    work involves bending or kneeling in the trench; and

  • locating existing services in the vicinity of and above the line of the

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Exekutive