We're reminding businesses and workers about the dangers of excavation work following two recent serious trench collapse incidents.

Last week, two Sydney workers were admitted to hospital after a five-metre deep trench caved in on them.

While an investigation is still underway, early findings indicate that it could easily have resulted in the deaths of both workers.

General Manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division Peter Dunphy said it was absolutely critical that such high-risk work be carefully planned, safety precautions put in place and conditions continuously monitored during excavation work.

“It is also important that the business owner or site manager collaborate with workers to fully assess any potential risk before any excavation work starts,” Mr Dunphy said.

“There will be times when additional measures are needed because the conditions assessed earlier may have changed due to unforeseen circumstances, such as water seepage.”

Mr Dunphy said WorkCover was particularly concerned as the latest serious incident followed a fatality last December where a worker died after a three-metre deep trench collapsed.

“In that instance, it appears that the soil had become unstable on both sides of the trench due to recent wet weather,” he said.

“As worksites are affected by natural occurrences such as rain, these should always be considered when planning any work – even if the rain fell days before.

“The sides of a trench must be adequately supported from the risk of collapse by shoring, benching or battering, or by any combination of these.

“The bottom line is that businesses need to ensure trenches are safe from collapse at all times.”

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