Great Examples of Trench Safety Equipment

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Trench safety equipment is used by contractors and municipalities to work safely in trenches. This equipment includes aluminum and steel trench shields, manhole shields, aluminum hydraulic trench shores, road crossing plates, pipe plugs, slide rail and build-a-box systems. Whether your crews are working in the trenches or between the barricades, the success of the project is heavy dependent on the trench safety equipment’s you use. That’s why thousands of contractors, municipalities, and developers rely on trench safety equipment such as trench boxes, trench shields, slide rail systems, message boards, barrier walls and more. This trench safety equipment should go along with keeping your crews OSHA-compliant and safe on the job-site.

A trench shoring system is a process of bracing the walls of a trench to prevent collapse. Several methods can be used to shore up a trench. Hydraulic shoring is the use of hydraulic pistons that can be pumped outward until they press up against the trench walls. They are typically combined with steel plate or a special heavy plywood called Finform. Another method is called beam and plate, in which steel I-beams are driven into the ground and steel plates are slid in amongst them. A similar method that uses wood planks is called soldier boarding.

Hydraulics tend to be faster and easier; the other methods tend to be used for longer term applications or larger excavations. Shoring should not be confused with shielding by means of trench shields. Shoring is designed to prevent collapse, whilst shielding is only designed to protect workers should collapse occur. Most professionals will define a trench shoring system as a different physical application that holds up the walls of a trench to prevent collapse. Some methods used in this process are:

Trench shoring boxes are particularly used where the ground is not stable. With their spring mounted flexible spindles, the trench shoring boxes can be installed with the “cut and lower” method. The range differs with regard to the thickness of plates and the safe working loads.

Trench Safety Equipment and Hydraulic Shoring

Hydraulic Vertical Shores are the quickest way to shore a trench. They are designed to prevent cave-ins in all but the most unstable soil conditions by supporting the side walls of the trench through hydraulic pressure. All vertical shores are installed and removed from the top of the trench.
Multi-Shores are large heavy duty vertical shores, for use in trenching projects where the depth of the trench is so deep that it exceeds the capacity of the standard vertical shore products with many of the same operational advantages as standard vertical shores.

Horizontal waler systems are designed for less stable soil conditions that require tight or intermittent sheeting. Lightweight aluminum alloy construction allows for quick installation and removal from above the trench.

A lightweight, modular and completely portable system is equipment a two-person crew can assemble by hand for easy placement by a rubber tire backhoe. Modular shield panels offer the flexibility to match changing job-site trench protection requirements.

Manhole and Sheeting

Manhole shields are specifically designed for personnel protection during manhole installations, point repairs, pipe taps, junction box installations and point inspections.
Hydraulic manhole systems build upon the concept of steel manhole shields, adding a hydraulic element to trench safety equipment can provide proactive soil support during the excavation process.
Hydraulic excavation braces provide an enhancement to typical tight sheeting for larger excavations. The braces are very versatile and can be used with a variety of systems including steel sheeting, beam and plate systems and slide rail systems to provide increased system functionality.

Steel sheeting frames can be used to provide positive soil support in the worst soil conditions. Rugged steel guides are used to form the edge of the protective system with steel sheets inserted through the guides to provide soil support to the depth of the excavation.

Pipe pullers are mechanical units that are used to apply the necessary mechanical forces required to safely and cleanly “join” large diameter concrete and culvert pipe in the trenches to hopefully eliminate joint and bell damage.

The grave shield is a unique and new trench shield system that is specifically designed for grave sites and cemetery operators.


While most people assume trench safety equipment is simply used to install pipes or other materials below ground; there are many other types of trenches dug to install such things as manholes. For these trenches, it’s just as important to ensure they are shored up in a safe fashion. Some of the latest innovations in making these trenches safer involve using Flex Shield material to take advantage of the pressure put on trench walls by the surrounding ground. Rather than making trench walls that are straight, Flex Shield walls are angled slightly when first put into the ground. However, they then use the pressure exerted on them by the surrounding ground to bow out and become straight, thus creating a very tight fit that will almost never waver and collapse. These are used quite often in manhole construction, when spaces can be tight and narrow and the threat of collapse very high. As construction projects become more and more complex in the years ahead, safety will continue to be a primary concern for companies and those on the job. Using technology such as Flex Shield along with equipment and methods developed by civil and mechanical engineers will ensure more workers can be safe and sound when working in the trenches.

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