Hydroexcavation with specialty vacuum trucks has become a much-preferred method for delicate trenching jobs today. Offering many benefits over traditional digging with heavy equipment, hydroexcavating is more efficient and much safer than traditional methods. Yet to appreciate the safety benefit, it is essential for companies who decide to purchase vacuum trucks for sale for use in this process to also use good operating practices at the job site and follow important safety rules. Safe hydroexcavating with these vacuum trucks requires in-depth operator training and an understanding of the risks involved.
Hydroexcavating Is Safe - And Dangerous
A main reason why the use of pressurized water in digging has taken off for many applications, such as trenching and potholing, is because it is much safer than using heavy mechanical equipment for these jobs or even digging by hand. Still, using this process for these and other purposes is dangerous and must be treated as a risky operation. Between a lack of training and safety violations, there are a number of injuries and fatalities every year due to hydroexcavation accidents.
Safety Risks Involved
Hydroexcavation requires careful training and an understanding of important OSHA safety standards, especially when digging deeper than four feet. Water makes a useful tool for gentler trenching work, reducing many of the potential risks that are faced with other equipment; however, it also brings with it a few other risks, such as the following:
- Soil Destabilization - The risk of destabilization of the digging site is much higher when using water, as various soils behave differently based on the amount of water they can absorb. Site collapse due to destabilization is a real risk.
- High-Pressure Water and Vacuum - Hydroexcavation uses water pressurized up to as high as 3,000 PSI. This much pressure cause severe injuries to the operator and damage underground utilities as well. This process is known to be gentler and more precise than other excavation methods when used with care; however, it can still cause extensive damage when mistakes are made. Similarly, high-pressure vacuums can also cause severe injuries.
Maintaining Safety During Jobs
Avoiding the mistakes that frequently result in damage, injuries, and sometimes even fatalities means ensuring that operators are well-trained and that they fully understand OSHA safety standards for hydroexcavation work. Besides knowing how to safely use these specialized vacuum trucks for sale, companies must also ensure their operators follow safety standards on the job to protect themselves and their work sites.
Hydroexcavation should never be done alone; there must always be more than one operator on the job. One worker should operate the equipment and another should observe the process and be available to assist if a problem arises. It is essential that digging sites be surveyed ahead of time and a soil analysis done so that appropriate measures can be taken to reinforce the site against collapse.
In addition, operators must never stand within two feet of the site to protect themselves in case of a collapse. It is always best to use good trenching methods, with operators trained on how to effectively use the equipment. These machines should be used to loosen and remove soil, but dissolve it away from utilities, as doing so increases the chance of an accident.
Safe use of these powerful vacuum trucks also means knowing ahead of time at what point pressurized water will damage whatever buried utilities are present and to keep the pressure below that point.
The important thing to remember is that although hydroexcavation vacuum trucks are frequently safer and more efficient than other types of digging equipment for certain jobs, they can still be just as dangerous when not used properly. Companies who purchase specialty vacuum trucks for sale, such as hydroexcavators, must provide adequate equipment and safety training for their operators and insist that safe on-site practices be followed!