Utility service engineers must regularly dig holes and trenches to access vital pipes and cables for maintenance and repair. Whether it is for water, gas, electricity, or telecoms, these crucial utilities are stored underground for protection and safety, and this can make access and work hazardous.
Oxford Safety Components worked closely with a large national water company to provide an effective protective solution to keep workers - and the general public - safe from the hazards posed by these trenches.
Even with sensible working and regular risk assessments, pits pose an inherent trip and fall risk to engineers, as well as the general public when positioned on pavements or the road.
The client had several engineers who regularly worked in and around trenches, accessing the water pipes beneath. Not only were they constantly at risk of falls into the holes when dug, the open trenches were potentially hazardous to the public when left overnight.
The existing solution utilised by the client was to lay walkboards over the holes overnight. However, these boards were bulky - requiring two operatives to put in place and raise the next day - and not entirely effective. Reinstatement teams were also required to lift the boards to check excavations had been properly back-filled. Overall, the client needed a solution that was efficient, effective, and most importantly, safe.
Our product experts worked closely with the client to identify the best solution to their needs and suggested the CoverSafe Trench solution. The CoverSafe Trench is an innovative, expanding trellis-design fall protection system which is purpose-designed to prevent falls into open trenches. With an open size of 2m x 1.2m, a carry weight of 6.5kg, and a maximum spread load of 180kg, the CoverSafe Trench was an ideal and unobtrusive solution for keeping engineers, and the public, safe.
The GRP material used in its construction meant engineers were also insulated from any electrical hazards present in the trench - with the added benefit of having a relatively low scrap value and no appeal to thieves - and the trellis design also allowed for clear views below without having to remove the mat.
Following a trial over four weeks across Wales, in Can Graig, Rhiwbina, Cardiff, we received glowing feedback from the client. The six-man team involved in the trial reported that the CoverSafe Trench was compact, lightweight and seriously reduced necessary manual handling and storage requirements, making their job easier.
The engineers particularly liked that the system could be easily transported when needed, looked more professional when in place, and reinstatement teams could easily see into the pit even when the CoverSafe Trench was in place.
Overall, the team reported that the system made them feel safer, and helped them limit risk when near highly trafficked areas such as schools, nursing homes, and shopping areas, where the public was potentially at risk.
The team’s line manager said: “All the team were very positive with their feedback on using this equipment and all felt it made sites look very professional and tidy. Going forward they have no issues with using the equipment on a daily basis.”
For more information on the CoverSafe Trench, or to discuss your fall protection needs, call us on +44 01869 323282 or use our online contact form.