How to Use Trench Boxes Safely Trenches are a pretty common sight in many engineering or construction sites. They’re used for laying telephone lines, pipes as well as many other constructions. While some are deep, others can be very shallow. Depending on the quality of soil, trench walls won’t support themselves for a long time. 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 commences, the site must go through a complete risk assessment to check for any potential risks, the employees needed and the equipment 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 of more than 5 feet require support either from shoring, sloping, or trench box. If the trench is beyond 20 ft deep, its support needs to be done by a registered engineer. How will people access the trench? It is by steps, ladders or a ramp? The trench needs to always be safe for access by workers within 25 feet, in emergency cases. The atmosphere inside the trench may also need to be tested for toxic gases or low oxygen levels. While trench boxes allow for simple installation, it’s not safe to pile boxes over each other.
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Tending to the trench Check for any signs of movement or damage by inspecting the trench box/trench support daily. All staff must put on protective gear, steel-toed boots, high visibility clothing, hard hats and so on. Ensure that all heavy tools as well as equipment are kept far from the trench’s edge. Excavation It’s probably harder to extract a manhole box than install it due to 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–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–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.