Risks to Health and Safety from Excavations
A lot of construction activities will require excavations to be undertaken before work above ground commences, for example in making preparations for the foundations of a new building to be erected. Excavating ground can be particularly hazardous as there are a number of potential risks to health and safety for those carrying out the work.
The most obvious danger is the risk of the sides collapsing in on the person or persons who are working down in the hole. The deeper the excavation, the harder it will be for the workers to escape, and the more likely it is that they will be crushed or suffocated from all the material that has fallen onto them. Even if it looks safe, the sides of a trench or excavation may not be stable at all, and factors such as rain, extreme dryness or the pressure from nearby movement can all cause the ground to give way at any moment without warning. These conditions will determine how the trench needs to be dug, including the steepness of the sides and whether any support is needed to prevent the possibility of collapse.
Construction-related health and safety courses and qualifications such as the SMSTS and NEBOSH Construction Certificate will cover risks from excavations and other hazards from construction site activities. The level of danger from the required excavation works may also mean that a permit to work system needs to be introduced and adhered to, in which case workers may need permit to work training to know how to implement and follow the permit procedure correctly.