During work on a unique excavation, the sides weren’t fully protected, resulting in a bystander and worker exposure to injury due to fall within the excavation.
Why is this an issue?
This particular excavation was near an emergency exit.
The excavation was nearing the 5’ level and sides were deteriorating.
The excavation had a confined space vessel at the bottom, which in turn had a hole ripped in the top exposing the interior. The depth of the tank was 5’.
There was no ladder access to the excavation, which would have inhibited the removal of a worker.
What can you do?
PLAN! Ensure you look at your surroundings. Are there emergency exits that need signage on the interior? Do you need to provide barricading to protect employees that use the exits during an emergency?
RECOGNIZE! Is your job unique? The presence of a tank at the bottom may elevate risks. When the fall hazard approaches free fall and gets to 6’, have barriers ready that can take 200lbs of side pressure (aka guardrail). If vehicles will be present, you may need to utilize jersey barriers.
STOP & RE-EVALUATE! When conditions change, like unexpected emergency drills or other events. Take the time to meet up with the crew, stop, take a deep breath, and re-evaluate the conditions of your job.