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Topic: Risk assessments - workplace

ground works - excavations
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Ground works - excavations

Ground works - excavations

Ground works involving excavation present risks to staff and members of the public which, left unmanaged, could cause accidents and potentially put you on the wrong side of the law. 

Safe digging

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you should complete a risk assessment of the work to be carried out, which identifies all “significant” hazards and appropriate “reasonable” ways of reducing risks to an acceptable level.

Note. Some excavation work will come under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and, as such, the management of many of the associated risks will be the responsibility of the work “designer” as well as the “principal contractor” or other contractors.

Managing the risks

To help you identify the hazards and appropriate ways of controlling them, use our example Risk Assessment - Ground Works - Excavations document.  It covers the generic hazards associated with excavation work and suggests control measures to reduce risks to an acceptable level.

You should ensure that your document only addresses “significant” hazards, i.e. any that could and more importantly are likely to cause an accident or injury.

Make your instructions clear

There is no point in putting activities on the document that simply don’t need to be there. Work to the principle that if there is any chance of your staff being unaware of the safe way of working on or near excavations and the effect such work can have on them or members of the public, then you will need to make it clear on your document. Finally, always ensure any control measures you identify and follow only go so far “as is reasonably practicable”.  

Note. The list of potential hazards is not exhaustive. For your risk assessment to be considered suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law it must accurately reflect the “significant” hazards associated with the work you are carrying out.

 

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