Understanding how to navigate trench shields is necessary for utility workers, because these structures protect by preventing cave ins. The use of a trench shield is required by OSHA regulations when a trench is five feet or deeper or when circumstances might pose a threat of a cave in at a depth of five feet or less.
How to Take Precautions when Building Trench Shields
Train your operators
It is important to train operators thoroughly in order to avoid potential dangers on the job. An important part of jobs involving utilities is to train supervisors and operators on the proper handling and the assembly of trench shields.
Sizing a trench shield
Knowing the scope of the job is key in choosing the correct trench shield. It should be large enough to provide protection but light enough for the equipment being used on the site. Create a checklist that can answer the following questions:
Practice Safe Operation
Follow the manufacturer's guidelines
Read the manufacturer's directions completely before assembling the trench shield. Make sure all components are supplied by the manufacturer, including the spreader pins. Do not substitute any other materials for the spreader pins.
Handling the trench shields
Properly handling trench shields helps keep utility workers safe. Do not chain together stacks of trench shields. When stacking shields, always use stacking pins. It is also important to install all the spreaders and never to remove a spreader from a machine. Never lift a trench shield by the spreaders. If you are using a tagline, the line must be long enough to keep the utility worker a safe distance from the shield.