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 known as trench shields, manhole boxes, tap boxes, or sewer boxes. 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 needs to be looked at. How deep does it need to be? How big should it be? Trenches that over 5 ft need support from one of these: trench box, sloping, or shopping. If the trench is beyond 20 ft deep, its support needs to be done by a registered engineer. How will people access the trench? Is it via a ramp, ladders or steps? The trench should always have safe access for workers within 25 feet , in case of emergency. The atmosphere within the trench might also require testing for poisonous gases or low levels of oxygen. While trench boxes allow for simple installation, it’s not safe to pile boxes over each other.
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Taking care of the trench The trench box or trench support should be inspected daily for any signs of movement or damage. All workers on the location must wear protective gear, high visibility clothing, hard hats, steel-toed boots, etc. Ensure that heavy tools and equipment is kept far away from the trench’s edge. Excavation It’s probably easier to install a manhole box than extract it because of the moving earth in the area around the trench. It’s advisable to use a chain sling for extraction, using any of these three methods. Straight pull–this simply involves attaching a sling to two lifting/extraction points and lifting it out. Half pull–a sling is attached to one side of a trench box, lifted as high as possible, then the sling is switched to the opposite side and the action repeated till the trench support is removed. Single pull–a single chain sling leg is connected to a point of extraction or lifting and the panel corners are lifted in turns; when the manhole box moves freely, it’s removed with the straight pull. To sum up, trenches do save lives. It’s a legal requirement to use them and they need to be planned for. Provided they’re well maintained and used, they do make work so much safer and easier.

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