Construction Site Health and Safety - Excavations
When it comes to health and safety on a construction site, one type of activity which has the potential to cause serious injuries or death is excavations. The deep holes and unstable ground contribute to a variety of possible dangers and risks. As with most health and safety issues, a combination of common sense and knowledge gained on health and safety courses can reduce the risk of accidents occurring.
The most obvious hazard associated with excavations is the hole or cavity created by the works. On a construction site this is likely to be deep, and creates the risk of a person or vehicle falling down into it. This falling from height can lead to injuries such as broken bones, head injuries and possible death. If a vehicle falls into the hole it can also cause injuries or death, and even if the driver and occupants escape unhurt, there is still likely to be damage to the vehicle and a major headache in trying to extract it out of there. A person or vehicle can fall down into the hole at any time, but the chances are increased dramatically if there is poor visibility, or if the edge is not clearly identified.
Excavation work can make the ground unstable inside the hole and in the surrounding area. Those working down there can be buried and trapped by soil if a wall gives way, whilst those up top near the edge could fall in if the ground slips. Even when the excavations are complete and the area filled in, there is still a danger from the unstable ground. It is likely to be softer than the surrounding undisturbed soil, and could still give way, or cause a vehicle to sink or topple over.
A further risk comes from the digging itself, as people or equipment could come into contact with buried surfaces such as electrical cables which can produce an electric shock, or water/sewerage pipes which can lead to flooding in the hole if ruptured, which could cause workers to drown if they cannot escape in time.
Depending upon the scale of the works, performing excavations is likely to require a permit to work system to be put into place due to the high-risk nature of the activity. For more information on permit to work training, or accredited construction site safety courses such as the SMSTS, SSSTS and NEBOSH Construction Certificate, please use the tabs at the top of the page to view the course outlines. Alternatively, please click on the "Contact Us" button towards the bottom of the page to contact us online, or call 0844 800 3295.