You can’t build anything much without solid foundations – and that means digging some pretty serious holes, trenches, pits and shafts.

Of course any excavation work brings with it the risk of collapse, so it’s important to know what you’re doing and put in place proper plans to manage risks. To help, WorkSafe has just published new Excavation Safety Good Practice Guidelines.

The guidelines replace the 1995 Approved Code of Practice for Excavation and Shafts for Foundations, and show just how far the industry has come in the last 20 years. WorkSafe worked closely with contractors, unions, shoring suppliers, engineering groups, the Electricity Engineers Association and industry training organisations to develop the guidelines.

Excavation Safety GPG cover LR

WorkSafe’s Construction Manager Marcus Nalter says bringing all that expertise and real-world experience together was vital to make sure the guidelines were up to date and practical.

“We were really pleased with the buy-in from industry. They were very supportive and responsive – and I think that’s reflected in the final document.”

Key points covered in the guidelines include:

  • Watch out for underground services and make sure you don’t undermine nearby structures
  • Check the excavation each day before starting work
  • Provide safe access to get in and out
  • Prevent collapse – shore, bench or batter back
  • Prevent people and materials falling in

“At almost 80 pages long the excavation guidelines cover the basics and much, much more - including detailed technical information and advice. It’s a great resource and one I’m sure the industry will find useful and relevant,” says Marcus Nalter.

For a deeper look at excavation safety checkout the full Excavation Safety Good Practice Guidelines