OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 32 Excavating and Tunnelling

Section 446 Worker access

Subsection 446(1)

A safe means of entering or leaving an excavation could include a ladder, scaffold or a mechanical device such as a stairway. It could also include appropriate sloping of the ground or soil so that a worker can safely walk into or out of the excavation.

For a tunnel or underground shaft, a safe means of entry or exit could include separate entry and exit points. Each entry or exit point could be constructed as a ramp that allows workers to safely walk to and from the working location. A tunnel or underground shaft could include, or be combined with, a system of stairs, ladders, mechanical lifts or hoists that provide alternative routes of escape in case of an emergency.

Subsections 446(2) and 446(3)

An employer must not require a worker to enter, and a worker must not enter, a trench that is deeper than 1.5 metres (4 feet 10 inches) unless it is properly cut back, shored using the methods and materials specified in this Part, or protected by a trench box or cage designed by a professional engineer.

An employer must not require a worker to enter, and a worker must not enter, an excavation deeper than 1.5 metres (4 feet 10 inches) and work closer to the wall than the depth of the excavation unless the wall is properly cut back, shored or protected by a temporary protective structure.

These requirements do not apply to trenches cut in solid and stable rock (see subsection 450(2)), or excavations in a ground formation certified by a professional engineer as stable (see section 449).