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Tips for Using Trench Boxes Safely Trenches are a pretty common sight in many engineering or construction sites. They are meant for laying pipes, phone lines as well as lots of other constructions. While some are quite deep, others may be extremely shallow. Based on the soil’s quality, trench walls will not support themselves for long. A steel or aluminum trench box supports the trench walls to ensure it’s safe to work there without the danger of walls collapsing on equipment and people. Trench boxes are also called manhole boxes, tap boxes, sewer boxes, or trench shields. Pre-installation Before excavation starts, the location must go through a comprehensive risk assessment to identify any potential risks, the equipment needed as well as the employees needed. The necessity of additional access is also assessed.
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Then the trench has to be considered. How deep is it supposed to be? How large should it be? Trenches of more than 5 feet require support either from shoring, sloping, or trench box. But if the trench is over 20 ft deep, its support must be designed by a registered engineer. How is the trench going to be accessed? It is by steps, ladders or a ramp? The trench must always be safely accessed by employees within 25 feet, in times of emergency. The atmosphere inside the trench may also need to be tested for toxic gases or low oxygen levels. Trench boxes are designed to allow for simple installation but it’s not safe to stack these boxes over each other.
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Taking care of the trench Check for any signs of movement or damage by inspecting the trench box/trench support daily. All workers on the location must wear protective gear, high visibility clothing, hard hats, steel-toed boots, etc. Ensure that all heavy tools as well as equipment are kept far from the trench’s edge. Excavation It is probably more difficult to extract a trench box than install it because of the earth’s movement around the trench. It’s recommended that a chain sling be used for extraction, using any of these 3 methods. Straight pull–a sling is just attached to the two lifting or extraction points and lifted out. Half pull–this is simply attaching a sling to one side of a manhole box, lifting it as much as possible, then switching the sling to the opposite side and repeating the action till the sewer box is removed. Single pull–one chain sling leg is attached to a lifting/extraction point and the corners of the panel are raised in turns; when the trench support moves freely, the trench box is removed with the straight pull. To sum up, trenches do save lives. They must be planned for and it’s a legal requirement to make use of them. Provided they’re well maintained and used, they do make work so much safer and easier.