Trenching, or digging a ditch, may look like it is a simple process that anyone with a shovel or a rented backhoe can do. But that mistake causes many accidents and even deaths every year. According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), “the fatality rate for excavation work is 112% higher than the rate for general construction.”
Here are the four top causes of injury, according to OSHA’s Trenching & Excavation eTool:
- no protective system
- failure to inspect trench and protective systems
- unsafe spoil-pile placement
- unsafe access/egress
The eTool has simple guides for avoiding each of these, but reading some information is not the same thing as being trained by qualified instructors. These teachers have the credentials that result in certifications future employers and insurance companies respect.
Why Training Is Better Than Teaching Yourself
Excavators do a dangerous job. When the consequences of making a mistake are things like injury or death, it’s better to begin the learning process in a classroom with expert teachers who can give you the benefit of their experience. You can learn about the types of mistakes that can be made and what will happen. Then, after the “head” knowledge is there, the “seat-of-the-pants” knowledge can be added in an environment designed to keep mistakes from being deadly.
Everyone makes mistakes when learning how to do something even trenching. That’s why some teachers say that F-A-I-L stands for “First Attempt In Learning”. Teaching yourself certain skills is a very good idea, and reading up on OSHA guides to a career you are interested in is a good idea, too. But if you are interested in operating heavy equipment, particularly those that are used in excavating, the best thing you can do is invest in credentialed training like that offered at ATS Heavy Equipment Operator Training School.