Trench Excavation

Trench excavation is perhaps the most basic of all excavation - dig a ditch, and BAM! You've just participated in trench excavation. Unfortunately for those involved, it's also one of the most dangerous occupational activities a person can engage in.

While there isn't a lot one can say about trench excavation itself - digging a ditch doesn't lend itself to the production of massive tomes - quite a lot can be said about the working conditions a person who is involved in such a project might face.

First, it should be pointed out that soil can be deadly. Dirt, quite plainly is ridiculously heavy. Don't believe me? Check the math: A cubic foot of soil, (that is, a cube of dirt which measures a foot in length on all sides), weighs approximately 100 pounds, and that's if it's dry. If it's wet, or has rocks in it, it can be much, much heavier. A cubic yard of soil (3' x 3' x 3'), by comparison, contains 27 cubic feet of dirt. For those of you reading this whose math isn't quite what it could be, a cubic yard of soil will yield an average weight of 2,700 pounds. If you want something to compare it to, that's the weight of a midsize car. The average trench cave-in can easily involve 3 to 5 cubic yards of dirt, which comes out to around 8,000 to 13,500 pounds of soil collapsing on the hapless worker(s) unlucky enough to be trapped at the bottom of the trench.

To put it succinctly, a trench of average length, should it collapse, WILL kill whoever is at the bottom. After all, one would not be expected to drop an SUV on their chest and survive, and the weights discussed above are proportional.

The dirt in a trench is held in place by pressure from the soil around it. Trench excavation, then, carry an ever-rising degree of risk - the excavation removes more and more dirt, which removes the pressure that soil previously provided. Without that counter-pressure, cave-ins not only happen, but happen with surprising speed and intensity. Trench excavation is no game.

If you are a worker in a company who specializes in extensive trench excavation, make sure you know your rights, and make sure that your workplace is safe! If you are a consumer in need of a trench excavation, it is perhaps advisable that you remember what you've read here, and keep an eye on things - trench excavation is dirty, dangerous work, and a glass of lemonade goes a long way to take the edge off.

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