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Ways to Safely Use Trench Boxes 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 extremely shallow, others can be quite deep. Depending on the quality of soil, trench walls won’t support themselves for a long time. An aluminum or steel trench box secures the trench walls to make it safe to work there without the risk of walls collapsing on people or equipment. Trench boxes are also called manhole boxes, tap boxes, sewer boxes, or trench shields. Pre-installation Before excavation starts, the site must undergo a thorough risk assessment to highlight any possible risks, the staffing required and the equipment required. The need for additional access is also looked at.
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Then the trench will have 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. But if the trench is over 20 ft deep, its support must be designed by a registered engineer. How will people enter the trench? Is it via a ramp, ladders or steps? The trench needs to always be safe for access by workers within 25 feet, in emergency cases. The atmosphere of the trench may also require testing for low levels of oxygen or poisonous gases. Trench boxes are made to be simple to install but it’s unsafe to stack boxes over each other.
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Looking after 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 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 involves simply attaching a sling to two extraction/lifting 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–this involves attaching a single chain sling leg to an extraction/lifting point and raising the panel corners in turns; once the manhole box moves easily, it’s taken out with the straight pull. To sum up, trenches do save lives. It’s legally required that they be used and they have to be planned for. So long as they’re used and maintained properly, they make work so much easier and safer.