WHS Form 68 Trench and Excavations Incident Emergency Response Procedure
Trench and Excavations:
A trench is a horizontal or inclined way or opening:
- the length of which is greater than its width and greater than or equal to its depth
- that commences starts at and extends below the surface of the ground, and that is open to the surface along its length
- For the purpose of emergency response, an excavation shall be defined by any depression, hole, trench, or earth wall, manmade or natural, of 1500mm or greater
Trench collapses generally occur due to unstable soil conditions combined with improper or inadequate shoring. The potential for additional collapse is considered a primary hazard to personnel. Removing soil or debris, adding weight near the edge of an open cut, vibration (such as vehicle movement), rain, or simply the passage of time, may cause additional collapse at any time during the rescue operation.
Trench rescue operations present a significant danger to rescue personnel and may involve complex requirements for shoring, hand tools, earth-moving equipment, and other specialised resources. The purpose of this document is to outline the safe and effective management of trench rescue operations, which often require special considerations.
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