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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.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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