If you have to dig a drainage trench on your land, you might be taking into consideration hiring an excavator and doing the job yourself. Here are some tips on how to stay safe when operating an excavator for trenching.
Before you jump into the cab and start work, take the time to prepare and think about exactly what you want to achieve and do some preparation.
Use chalk lines to mark the line of the trench so that you have a guide to follow when digging. When the line has been placed, line up the front and back of the excavator so that you know you are tracking straight along the line.
Think carefully about keeping the machine level. As you work, it may be necessary to stop and pack soil underneath one of the tracks so that it is level. You can hire a laser level with the machine to use as a grade control system.
When digging a trench with an excavator, think of the trench as a series of interconnection sections. Make sure that each section is perfect before moving on to the next.
Operator and site safety
Digging a trench is potentially dangerous with the biggest hazard being that of cave-ins. Always keep the excavator far back enough to be sure that it can support its weight. If you move the machine too close to the edge of the trench, the soil could collapse, taking the machine into the trench with it.
When operating the machine, be very aware of who is around you on-site at all times. Remember the large radius of the excavator’s arm with a potentially lethal bucket on the end of it and be observant at all times. Keep in mind that although the cabin which you are sitting can rotate a full 360 degrees, the actual digger tracks move in one direction only. So, if you are facing to one side in your cab, the digger will continue moving forwards.
Remember that if you rotate your cab by 180 degrees and you simultaneously push the excavator controls forwards, the machine will actually track backward. If you forget that, you could end up tracking the digger straight off the edge of the bank and into the trench.
You should always wear a hard hat when operating heavy machinery such as a digger, just in case of accidents. Be very careful that items of your clothing don’t become caught on the controls of the excavator. Always wear close-fitting clothing to avoid accidents.