Trenches are some of the most dangerous parts of any construction site due to the lack of trench safety. In fact, the fatal accident rate in excavation is 112% higher than that of general construction activities. The nature of the work leads it to be susceptible to soil cave-ins, falls, toxic fumes, and a variety of other problems.
The main reason that trench accidents occur is due to improper safety protocol and a lack of safety equipment. In this day and age, there is no excuse for failing to follow the safety guidelines to protect workers’ lives. For trench workers, trench boxes are some of the most important pieces of equipment.
What is a Trench Box?
Trench boxes – sometimes called drain boxes or trench guards – are large structures designed to hold the earth up around a trench. They are generally made of steel or aluminum. Some trench boxes resemble shipping containers without the top or ends, secured by perpendicular bars for added strength.
There are a variety of different types of trench boxes. Backhoe trench boxes are lightweight and allow or excavating on the site. Manhole trench boxes are compact but deep to allow for work on manhole digging and sewer systems. Mainline trench boxes are often very long and sturdy to allow for work to be done while installing water mains.
Benefits of Trench Boxes & Trench Safety
Stabilize the Earth
As mentioned, trench boxes are designed to hold up the earth on the side of the trench. This helps to prevent soil from falling or caving into the trench while workers are inside.
Increase Life of the Trench
Trenches often suffer from a short life span due to inclement weather conditions or because of the quality of the earth. A trench box can help to increase this life span. Sometimes, trench boxes can hold trenches in place for several months.
Minimize Digging Requirements
Because the trench box stabilizes the trench and increases its life span, not as much digging has to be done. Once the trench is built, the trench box helps hold it in place so that workers don’t have to keep maintaining the trench. This saves on extra labor costs and helps move the project along.
This is the most important benefit of trench boxes. Every worker deserves to be given a safe environment in which to do their jobs. Trench boxes eliminate many of the external threats to workers. They also make it easier to move throughout the trench, minimizing even minor injuries such as rolled ankles and scrapes.
Trench boxes also protect workers by giving them additional time to escape the trench in the case of impending disaster. When a soil collapse happens without a trench box, it is often sudden and unexpected. But when a trench box is used, workers can recognize the warning signs ahead of time and get out. They can then reinforce the trench and get back to work knowing that they are safe thanks to the trench box.