There are numerous safety measures that should be taken before the trencher chain first touches the earth, including a thorough examination of your trencher’s engine, hydraulics, belts, and tracks; a survey and visual inspection of the jobsite.
• ALWAYS have all underground utilities located prior to
digging. Know and follow local regulations for excavating near
• Stay away and keep others at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from
machine and moving parts of machine. Stop machine if
others get too close.
• Learn how to use all controls prior to operating.
• ALWAYS wear the seatbelt provided with a roll-over
protective structure (ROPS) when the ROPS is in place.
• Keep operator presence systems operating correctly.
• Clear objects such as landscaping fabric, cable and wire
from the work area.
• Start trenches away from obstructions such as curbs, slabs
and fences that digging teeth may catch.
• Stop trenching to make trench observations such as
• Operate only with personnel restraint bar or trench cleaner
• When operating a pedestrian machine, hold the handles with
an open grip and stand back from the console.
• Let the trencher and digging chain come to a complete stop
before lowering the trench cleaner shoe into digging
• Keep chain well maintained.
• Trench sides can cave in up to a distance of 3/4 x the
depth of the trench. For example, if the trench is 4 feet (1.2
m) deep, the cave-in can start up to 3 feet (0.9 m) away
• Trenchers can react if the chain hits an underground
obstruction such as a tree branch or concrete footing. On
pedestrian machines, this can cause the handles to be
forced downward suddenly.
• Machine will move when digging starts.
• The injured was using a shovel on the right side of the
digging chain to cave off the trench side and allow the
digging chain to pull soil from the trench. The accident
occurred when the injured got too close and attempted to
step across the trench with his left leg. His foot slipped
down the trench side and into the digging chain. His leg
was amputated below the knee and he had severe tissue
damage to his thigh.
• An experienced construction supervisor was stepping
across a 12-inch (305-mm) trench while the trencher was
running. He was too close, his foot slipped, and he fell
into the trench and digging chain. He died on the scene.
• The spoils flap on a trencher was missing, so the crew
placed a wooden board with one end on the tractor and
one end on the restraint bar. A crew member was riding
on the board to hold it in place. A rock was thrown and hit
the board, causing the crew member to fall. His leg was
caught in the digging chain. He had severe tissue damage
and subsequently suffered numerous infections.
• A crew was trenching next to a sidewalk. A crew member
was straddling the trench while the trencher was running,
holding a piece of cardboard to keep dirt off the sidewalk.
The trencher chain struck the sidewalk and knocked the
boom out of the trench. The crew member suffered severe
cuts to both of his arms.
• An operator was trenching in a field that had a crosscountry
gas main buried underneath. The trencher struck
the gas line, and it exploded. A huge hole was blown in
the ground. The trencher was blown into the air and
landed 100’ away on its top. It is presumed that the
operator died instantly.