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Trenching is commonly used to place utility lines, such as gas, water and telecommunications, under the ground and connect homes or businesses to the grid. There are some safety issues involved in this process and ways to work around trenches without injuring yourself or damaging critical supply lines. The three main things you should do when digging a trench is slope the sides, shore them up correctly and shield the walls with trench boxes.

Slope

Your trenching Boca Raton FL company will slope or bench the trench walls to keep them from collapsing as well as allow safe access to the lines being installed. The degree of the slope will largely depend on how deep and long the trench needs to be for access to install or repair utility lines, the type of line being worked on and the location of the trench. The deeper the trench, the more your slope will be noticeable and the wider your footprint will need to be to keep the dirt from refilling the hole.

Shore

Shoring up the walls of the trench involves installing temporary supports that can allow access for the walls and trench box used in the next step. These supports are usually placed at an angle from the bottom to the top of the trench and can include shielding walls or boxes. It is important to check the location of the lines you are working on, as well as any others in the trench, to properly place the supports where they will help hold the walls up without damaging or blocking utility lines.

Shield

Not every trench will need a box or shields to keep the walls from collapsing, and shallow trenches outside of the flow of traffic can usually be worked on with just the shoring supports. Trench boxes are metal plates fitted in along each side of the hole to hold back the surrounding dirt and rocks. It is important to make sure that your shield box is the right depth for the trench you are using, however, as dirt walls above or below these shields can tumble loose and block line access.

In addition to watching your step around trenches, it is important to properly slope, shore and shield the dugout to access utility lines during repairs. The right equipment and knowledge can increase worksite safety around trenches and reduce accidental damage to water or telecommunications lines during repairs or replacements.