La Nina contributes to rise in excavation incidents

SafeWork NSW

SafeWork Inspectors have begun visiting excavation sites throughout the State to ensure safety and remind those excavating about ‘Before Your Dig Australia’ requirements.

Head of SafeWork NSW Natasha Mann said SafeWork’s ‘Excavation and Earthmoving Plant Safety Program’ will continue until April next year after an increase in La Nina-related excavation incidents due to the deterioration of ground conditions and a rise in other incidents involving earthmoving plant.

“Excavations on construction sites and farms are high-risk activities. Risk management precautions must be in place with conditions continuously monitored,” Ms Mann said.

“Business owners, site managers and supervisors must consult with workers to fully assess potential risk and complete a Safe Work Method Statement before any excavation work starts, ensuring trenches are safe from collapse.

“Workers can be severely injured if they are struck by earthmoving equipment or if their equipment comes into contact with electrical assets.

“‘Digging blind’ is one of the main causes of electrocution and so SafeWork NSW is collaborating with Before You Dig Australia to increase awareness of their free service. Before starting any excavation check with Before You Dig Australia so you know the location of utilities and services.

“Proper planning before work begins and ongoing monitoring of ground conditions is essential, especially following flooding or heavy rain. If in doubt we recommend consulting further with a geotechnical engineer. The consequences of failing to properly to assess site conditions can be fatal.”

Recent serious excavation incidents include:

  • In June this year, a 19-year-old apprentice was seriously injured clearing a trench on a residential building site. He was positioned within a two-metre-high unsupported trench when a section collapsed. The worker sustained multiple fractures and needed to be rescued by other workers on site.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).