Digging Safely – Excavation Tips For Homeowners

excavation safety tips

So you’re considering taking on an excavation project yourself. It can be rewarding to do take the DIY route. It will stretch your knowledge and teach you a lot about your land and excavating in general. That said, excavating is a dangerous job. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. Before you start, it’s important to have an understand of common safety concerns and how to address them.

Below, we’ve compiled 7 important excavation safety tips for you to consider before beginning your project.

Obtain Necessary Permits:

There’s not too much to cover here as the permits required will vary depending on your location and the specific project you’re taking on. The most important thing is this – before you put a shovel in the ground, make sure that you have the appropriate permits to do the work. Not doing so can land you in a pile of trouble and it’s just not worth it.

Call Before You Dig

Most places have some form of this, but in BC, it’s called BC 1 Call. You should absolutely call them prior to doing any excavation work. BC 1 Call will help you identify what’s underground on and around your property. It’s really easy to damage things underground. While some things such as sprinkler lines are a nuisance, breaking a gas line or active water service can be an embarrassing and expensive mistake.

BC 1 call is a free service, so there’s really no reason not to do it. Give them a call 5-7 days before starting on your project to allow time for them to respond.

Identify and Mark Utilities

Get yourself a good can of inverted marking paint and mark out the utilities that have been identified. It’s always a good idea to gently expose utilities by hand, rather than trying to use an excavator. Be extra careful when working in the vicinity of utilities. There is sometimes some discrepancy between where the utilities are meant to be and where they are. For this reason, it’s good practice to be extra careful within a few feet on either side of your utility marks.

Protective Gear and Clothing

You don’t want to get hurt, right? It’s important to wear safety gear when working around excavations. For a residential job, you should have steel-toed boots and work gloves at a minimum. Not a bad idea to throw a hard hat, hi-viz vest and safety glasses as well. The reality is, it’s not hard to get injured when working around machinery and excavations. It’s a good idea to be prepared!

Related Article – Where to Rent an Excavator in Victoria?

Soil Stability and Trenching Safety

Ensuring soil stability is fundamental in trenching safety during excavation projects. Most residential projects aren’t going to be deeper than 4ft, but it does happen. Unstable soil poses a significant risk of collapse, potentially leading to severe injuries or fatalities. Before trenching, it’s crucial to assess soil conditions meticulously, employing proper shoring, sloping, or benching techniques as needed. If you’re excavating a deeper hole and don’t know how to do this, it would be a good idea to call a pro. Adhering to trenching safety guidelines is essential for protecting both workers and the integrity of the excavation site.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is indispensable in excavation projects to swiftly respond to unexpected challenges. Having a well-defined emergency plan ensures that workers and homeowners alike can promptly address accidents or unforeseen incidents during excavation. It is important to establish clear communication channels and designate emergency contacts, fostering a rapid response in case of injuries or utility disruptions. Additionally, keeping first aid kits on-site, familiarizing workers with evacuation procedures, and having access to emergency services information contribute to a proactive and safety-oriented approach in the event of unforeseen circumstances during excavation work.

Hire a Professional Excavation Service

As you can see, there’s a lot more to excavation than just scooping dirt. You might decide that it’s better to just leave it to a licensed pro, and that’s not a bad choice. In addition to all of the considerations above, a professional excavation contractor will complete the job quickly, carries the right insurance and can deal with problems quickly if and when they arise.

If you’re considering hiring a professional excavation contractor for your next project, give us a shout.


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