How to Excavate Safely

Professional exaction workers take safety seriously because of the numerous cases of fatal incidents that damage property and lead to loss of life. Whenever a safety inspector from a company or government comes to a work site, they are looking out for everyone's good. If they determine that an excavation poses a risk to those working or passing by, protective measures must be put in place regardless of how it looks to the normal eye.


­­Other than unexpected accidents and intentionally ignoring certain safety precautions, the other cause of accidents is simply not planning. As a professional, you should have a checklist including the following:

  • Identify any debris that is potentially hazardous and how you will respond to emergencies
  • Exit and entry points into the excavation as well as how to protect passersby from falling into it.
  • Take note of the possibility of there being atmospheric hazards and water in the excavation
  • Note the location of underground pipes, overhead power and telecom lines and the stability of adjacent structures since they present potential fire hazards as well.

Safety Tips and Practices in Excavation

Information and Training

It is the manager's or supervisor's responsibility to ensure that workers on site have the necessary training on safety practices. Workers should be protected and informed of any potential hazards associated with their work areas. They should also be made aware of emergency procedures to be implemented as and when necessary. Lastly, there should be a record of the people at the excavation site, any protective systems put in place and inspections done.

Protective Equipment

Other than other protective measures on site such as support structures, people on the site need personal protective gear. These include gloves, safety footwear, hardhats, eye protection, fall protection and hearing protection devices.

Barricades and Support Structures

Install fences, fabricated bar rail assemblies, barricades, protected walkways for workers and visitors to the site. In addition, put up appropriate safety signs to protect all passersby. Put up a sufficient shoring, sloping or benching system to keep people safe in case of cave-ins.

Ensure you have the equipment needed for your support structures before work begins.

Excavation Material

The spoil pile from your excavation should be stored a distance away from the edge of the trench or the excavation site using retaining devices. These are divided into two: cut walls and fill walls. Cut walls tend to support natural ground while for fill walls are for backfill. If not possible to have such walls, haul the excavated material to a different, safer location.


Keep the trench or the excavation open only as long as it is needed to finish the work tasks for that period. Otherwise, it should be closed if possible.

For more ideas, talk to other professional excavation services.