Safety Guidelines for Workers Within Road and Bridge Construction

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Excavation and shoring are necessary for a variety of construction projects. These include, but aren’t limited to, building temporary roads, temporary walking bridges, and other types of temporary and permanent infrastructure projects. In addition to repairing existing roads and bridges, new ones need to be constructed in order to address the country’s needs.

Excavation Shoring Design and Trenches

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides detailed definitions for both excavation shoring designs and trenches. When workers are creating an excavation shoring design, they are basically removing earth from an area. An excavation would consist of any cut, cavity, trench, or depression that is made within the earth’s surface. Trenches, however, are narrow underground excavations. These are deeper than they are wide, and tend to be 15 or less feet wide.

Types of Shoring for Excavations

There are two types of shoring along with three different classes of shoring. First of all, timber and aluminum hydraulic are the two basic types of shoring. Secondly, shoring is classified based on its support features and/or position within space:

  • Raking or inclined shores
  • Flying or horizontal shores
  • Dead or vertical shores

Excavation Safety Guidelines

In order to comply with OSHA guidelines, there needs to be safe access and egress to all types of excavations. This includes, using these and other types of devices:

  • Ladders
  • Steps
  • Ramps

It’s important to note that these devices are required when employees are working within trench excavations that are four feet or deeper. Furthermore, these devices need to be easily accessible and located within 25 feet of where employees are working.

In some instances, such as when trenches are five or more feet deep, additional protective systems are required. The exception to this would be when the excavation is made within stable rock. When trenches are 20 or more feet deep, this system needs to adhere to at least one of the following requirements:

  • Designed by a registered professional engineer
  • Based on tabulated data prepared by a registered professional engineer
  • Based on tabulated data approved by a registered professional engineer

Other essential safety measures include piling excavated soil and other debris a minimum of two feet from the excavation’s edges. This assists with preventing these materials and any equipment from rolling or falling into an excavation.

The Importance of Addressing the Country’s Infrastructure

Every day, there are more than two-hundred million trips taken across bridges in 102 major metropolitan areas. It is important to note that recent data shows that these bridges are deficient, and one out of every nine has been rated as structurally deficient. Furthermore, the average age of the 607,380 bridges in this country is 42 years, which signifies the importance of repairing and/or replacing these vital structures.

Nearly $90 billion was spent on highway construction during 2015. By 2020, it is expected that highway and road construction costs will exceed $99.4 billion. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in order to eliminate this situation by 2028, $20.5 billion would need to be spent every year. Currently, however, just $12.8 billion is being spent on the country’s bridge deficient backlog. This points directly to the need to budget for the nation’s infrastructure needs to provide safer roads and bridges.

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