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How to Use Trench Boxes Safely Trenches are quite common in many engineering and 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. Based on the soil’s quality, trench walls support themselves for a short time. Steel or aluminum trench boxes support trench walls to make sure it’s safe for work to be done without walls falling on equipment or people. Other names for trench boxes are manhole boxes, sewer boxes, tap 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 need for extra access is also evaluated.
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Then the trench has to be considered. How deep does it need to be? How large does it need to 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 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. While trench boxes allow for simple installation, it’s not safe to pile boxes over each other.
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Looking after the trench The trench box or trench support should be inspected daily for any signs of movement or damage. All staff must put on protective gear, steel-toed boots, high visibility clothing, hard hats and so on. Be sure to keep heavy tools and equipment away 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–this simply involves attaching a sling to two lifting/extraction points and lifting it out. Half pull–this involves attaching a sling to the side of a manhole box, lifting it as high as possible, switching the sling to the other side and repeating the action until the manhole box 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 a legal requirement to use them and they need to be planned for. As long as they’re properly maintained and used, they make work a lot safer and easier.