Managing the health and safety risks associated with excavation work

Excavation is among the most hazardous construction operations. Therefore, to protect your workers from injuries, measures should be implemented to minimise the risks around excavations. 

Planning the work
Planning involves identifying the hazards, assessing the risks, and deciding suitable controls in consultation with everyone involved in the work. Remember to consider the unique characteristics of the site.

Controlling excavation risks
Common risks to be considered when planning excavation works are; 

Securing the work area
Ensure excavations are suitably fenced at all times with barriers strong enough not to collapse if someone leans or falls against them. Where possible cover excavations if not working in or near them, or backfill immediately once work is completed.

Falling from height
Working at height involves if a person could fall from one level to another.  Click here for the controls to minimise the risk of falling.

Ground Collapse
Ground collapse is one of the main risks of excavation work. You can prevent collapse by shoring, benching, or battering back. Do not assume the ground will stand unsupported.

Safe access and egress
Provide safe access and egress for all workers at all times. Ensure you keep the floor of the excavation clear of anything that would obstruct workers’ safely exiting  in an emergency

Overhead and underground services
Dial before you dig, and make yourself aware of the unseen services below and above that could be a risk to your works. 

Ground & surface water
Workers should not work in excavations where water has collected or is collecting unless the necessary controls are in place.

Notifiable works
Do you need to notify WorkSafe NZ of your excavation work? You can notify WorkSafe by completing a Particular hazardous work notification form. Remember this must be done 24 hours before works commence.

For more information on work that needs to be notified to WorkSafe, including notifiable events and incidents, click here.

Keeping you and your workmates safe at work is a priority, so make sure you are aware of your requirements for managing the risks of excavation.

The HazardCo App site review resource has a list of risk controls that should be in place to minimise the risk associated with excavation work.

If you need a hand getting started or would like more information, get in touch with the friendly HazardCo team today – we’re always happy to help.

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