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Excavation and Trench Safety

Fencing for Safety Around Trenches

According to OSHA, excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. Landslides and caving-in present the greatest risks and pose a high worker fatality records. Other hazards include falls, falling load, drowning and asphyxiation. Many Americans every year encounter trenches and excavations out in the world: in the streets, sidewalks, and paths of our cities and towns.

OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters). Contractors have a legal obligation to protect its workers and the public from the hazards of excavation and trenching. OSHA standards require that a competent person make a daily inspection before workers enter an excavation area. 

Meeting OSHA Trench Standards

Aside from protective systems such as benching, sloping, shoring and shielding, OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(7) provides:

            (i) Each employee at the edge of an excavation 6 feet (1.8m) or more in depth shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, fences, or barricades when the excavations are not readily seen because of plant growth or other visual barrier;

            (ii) Each employee at the edge of a well, pit, shaft, and similar excavation 6 feet (1.8m) or more in depth shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, fences, barricades, or covers.

Chain Link Fences to Ensure Public Safety

Aside from worker safety, construction sites must be properly restricted to protect the general public from accidents and fatalities including falling into open trenches or excavation on public ways, public property, and private property. There are regulations requiring trenches to be barricaded, fenced, covered, or backfilled.

Although every state and city enforce their own safety regulations, most municipalities require temporary fencing or barricades to be erected before any work site preparation or excavation begins.  Access to open excavations in construction, maintenance or repair jobs is restricted using chain link fencing, orange plastic mesh or barricades. The type of fencing required for a particular work site depends on expected job length and the local codes.

Chain Link Fence Windscreens and Much More

Here at National Construction Rentals, we provide many of the essential construction pieces, including temporary fencing, barricades, portable restrooms, and even mobile storage. We can even add a useful windscreen to your fence and help to contain the dust and dirt dispersal caused by wind in your area. Windscreens have the added benefit of extra privacy for your construction project.

It is the responsibility of the permit holder to secure open, unattended trenches and excavations. Temporary fence and barricades from National Construction Rentals will help ensure that the general public is kept away from these safety hazards. OSHA and ANSI compliant warning signs reading “DANGER-KEEP OUT” must be mounted on the fence or barricade at specific intervals. Open pits should be provided with a sturdy cover with hazard warning signs to alert people of trip or fall hazard. 

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