One of the most frequently used tools of utility construction is the trench box. The NUCA Safety Newsletter, Volume 33, issue 3 had a good, in-depth article on trench boxes. Many times, we are so used to doing something that we don’t realize the significance of guidelines and standards related to the activity. That can be related to trench boxes too. Things as simple as the assembly process can become complicated if the right steps are not followed, such as the position of workers and the exposure to overhead handling of trench box parts. Training activities regarding trench boxes should include assembly and disassembly as well as lifting and moving, t
aglines and safety pins and engineering standards. Some companies own their own trench boxes. Unless there is some way of tracking engineering data and the relation to the specific trench box, there could be a violation when data is lost or misplaced. Also, when owning a trench box, frequent examinations should be made to ensure that damage has not resulted through handling that might compromise the safety of the trench box. Holes punched in the side walls allow water and sand to penetrate adding to the weight of the trench box. These damaged trench boxes may exceed the lifting capacity of the machine. Additionally, trench box sidewalls can rust from the inside and the walls become thinner reducing the strength factor significantly.
There are so many opportunities for us to take advantage of learning to improve our industry. Too often we rely on field e
xperience to teach the right way to do a specific task, but it always relates to how the teacher has learned that task. Was the task taught properly or was the training the result of experience learned improperly? Ongoing training in the very basics of what we do should be a priority. We should never take for granted that our people understand the standards and procedures of all the complicated things we do. Not everyone can do what we do. We are specialists.