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Loss Control Tips

Excavation Contractors

The primary business of excavation contractors in the

construction industry is land preparation. Their work often

involves operating heavy machinery to dig, move and grade

the earth for various construction projects. Such practices

include digging the foundation to exacting dimensions,

grading to provide a level surface, and trenching to

accommodate water, sewage or utility pipelines. Excavation

contractors may also clear land and perform some types

of concrete work, such as pouring foundations for roads,

houses or other buildings. Due to their wide variety of

operations, these professionals are often exposed to various

safety, liability and property risks. That’s why it’s vital to

have effective loss control measures in place. This resource

outlines common risks excavation contractors must address

and offers helpful strategies to avoid possible claims.

Inland Marine—Mobile


Excavation contractors face many inland marine

exposures, especially since they often use their own

excavation and construction equipment at job sites.

Inadequate maintenance procedures and a lack of

prevention protocols can result in equipment damage,

which could lead to significant interruptions and costly

repair or replacement expenses. Excavation contractors

should consider these steps to limit risks:

• Keep a detailed list of machinery. Each item should

include an identifying number, age, type and condition.

• Add nonremovable labels to mobile equipment to

allow for easy and permanent identification.

• Implement an effective mobile equipment inspection

and maintenance program to help keep equipment

in good condition and prevent safety issues during

operation. Clean equipment tracks at the end of each

day to prevent any issues from arising.

• Implement security measures to prevent the

unauthorized use of equipment left at job sites. These

measures can include installing security cameras,

locking equipment doors and hiring on-site security.

• Conduct daily operation checks on heavy equipment

to make sure there are no issues with the machinery.

Premises and Operations


The nature of excavation and trenching operations

poses various liability concerns. For example, third-party

damage and injuries to bystanders can lead to costly

liability claims. Therefore, it’s important for excavation

contractors to take the following measures to limit their

premises and operations liability:

• Develop appropriate safety protocols for excavation

operations. This includes implementing programs for

soil classification and identification, excavation safety

plans and the use of excavation protection systems.

• Make sure all operations are conducted in accordance

with applicable OSHA regulations, including making

sure trenching boxes are used for trenching activities

when needed.

• Ensure all excavation contractors are appropriately

licensed and experienced for the task at hand before

beginning work.

• Require all contractors to utilize a detailed inspection

checklist when conducting maintenance procedures.

• Use signage to signal there is open trenching.

• Develop and implement procedures for inspecting a

job site before work begins. This includes determining

where earth moving will occur, where spoil piles will be

located and what areas are around the job site.

• Ensure site security measures—such as fences or

security personnel—prevent the general public from

trespassing on job sites. If working around high vehicle

traffic areas, ensure signs and barricades are utilized to

protect workers, vehicle traffic and pedestrians.



Claims against excavation contractors tend to be more

costly than they are frequent. Property damage—such

as improperly settling backfill, soil erosion or damage

to underground structures or lines—or injuries to a third

party after contracted operations have been completed

can result in serious and costly ramifications. To minimize

completed operations exposures, excavation contractors

should follow these protocols:

• Ensure all areas have been marked and identified for

any underground utilities. In addition, surveys should

be completed prior to the start of digging or working.

There should be a program in place to make sure

these steps are completed.

• Train operators on how to properly excavate or trench

to prevent issues with soil compaction after the site

excavation. Employees should also be trained to know

the proper type of heavy equipment necessary for the


• Confirm that the proper environmental protection

measures were completed before and after the

excavation of a job site to prevent erosion issues.

• Conduct inspections of pipelines or utilities by

a competent inspector, and consult necessary

government officials to ensure all applicable state,

federal and local ordinances were followed.

Employee Safety As with any employer, excavation contractors must

protect their employees from illnesses and injuries on

the job. In regards to excavation operations, safeguarding

employees from occupational risks (e.g., trenching caveins,

falls into open trenches, and caught-in or caughtbetween

injuries) is vital to prevent potential incidents.

With this in mind, these professionals should implement

these employee safety measures:

• Establish a written training program that outlines

excavation safety measures, including establishing a

competent person for the job site, personal protective

equipment (PPE) protocols, and inspection and training

procedures for employees who work in trenches and

around excavations.

• Perform a PPE survey to determine which types of PPE

are needed for each work task. Provide all necessary

PPE to employees and educate them on the proper

use of this equipment.

• Ensure that a competent person is regularly inspecting

trenching and excavations to ensure that the proper

safety prevention techniques are being followed.

• Train employees on how to use equipment and how to

properly dig trenches and perform excavations.

• Develop an effective workplace safety training

program that requires all employees to participate in

routine training. Doing so will allow new employees

to prepare for their roles while refreshing experienced

employees on important safety protocols.

• Make sure equipment is kept in working order and the

safety mechanisms—such as alarms, seat belts and

roll cages—are also operational.

• Create an incident investigation program that allows

swift and thorough incident investigations to take



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