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Implement safety procedures for open hole or deep excavations


Unit Standard (SAQA Reg. No 365183)

Excavation failures are particularly dangerous because they may occur quickly, limiting the ability of workers (and in some cases others nearby) to escape, especially if the collapse is extensive.

Open holes and deep excavation are among the most hazardous construction operations. The speed of an excavation collapse increases the risk associated with this type of work. The consequences are significant as the falling earth can bury or crush any person in its path resulting in death by suffocation or internal crush injuries. Excavations refer to trenches, drilled holes, excavated holes and embankments.

Successful candidates credited with this unit standard are able to:

  • Explain the legal responsibilities for Health and Safety when working in or alongside excavations.
  • Identify unsafe working conditions relating to excavations.
  • Determine methods of achieving health and safety when working in or alongside excavations.
  • Undertake responsibility for safety of self and others.
  • Conduct safe work practices.




Quality Assured Partner: Construction Education And Training Authority



This course is directed towards people who are required to work in open holes and deep excavations within the geotechnical industry. Learners are able to explain the legal responsibilities for Health and Safety when working in or alongside excavations and identify unsafe working conditions relating to excavations as well as determine methods of achieving health and safety when working in or alongside excavations.  The area of focus of this course will be;

Introduction into excavation

Safety and health


How legislation is structured

  • Act – act is fully supported by law
  • Regulations
  • Code of practice
  • Guides

Preplanning and co-ordination

Hazard management

Other hazards, natural or artificial

What other safety precautions are you required

How should you maintain materials and equipment used for protective systems

Additional Hazards and Protections

  • What other excavation hazards do you need to protect workers against
  • Falls and Equipment
  • Water Accumulation
  • Hazardous Atmospheres
  • Access and Egress

What should you report and investigate in case an accident occurs

Emergency procedures and how are they established

Establish medical aid and first aid programs

Emergency access and egress

Prior to Excavation or Trenching

  • Identification of Buried Utilities
  • Surface Encumbrances
  • Competent Person


  • Materials and Equipment
  • Protection of Employees
  • Inspections

Cave-ins and protective support systems

  • Safety Precautions
  • Installation and Removal of Protective Systems
  • Support systems and retaining structures
  • Sloping
  • Benching
  • Dewatering systems

Selecting PPE

  • Training Employees in the Proper Use of PPE
  • Authority and Responsibility
  • PPE considerations
  • Why wear PPE

Unsafe work practice

  • Employee obligations
  • Employer obligations
  • Provision for movement of persons in, around and across an excavation

Guard Rails

Air Quality Maintained

Barriers And Warning Signs

Traffic Management

Removal Of Steel Trench Boxes

.Entry Level Requirements Into This Programme?

  • Certified copy of your ID document
  • School certificate Grade 10 or Skills certificate equivalent NQF Level 3 or Trade test certificate

Learning Assumed To Be In Place And Recognition Of Prior Learning:

  • Communication at NQF Level 2 or equivalent
  • Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 2 or equivalent

Target Audience

All companies that want to ensure their employees comply with the requirements of the OHS act for open holes and excavation in the construction environment.

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