Yesterday, I set about digging (again!), this time for a foundation for a masonry fence. Because the excavation for the foundation was right next to the sidewalk, I knew I would have to provide some kind of barrier and visual key that there was a deep (2’+) and potentially dangerous trench next to where people would be walking. Seriously, if you ended up walking into this thing, you would almost certainly break your leg, or worse, and that’s a liability I’d rather not have to bear. More importantly, being safe and providing barriers and warnings to potentially hazardous areas of your work shows consideration for those around you, and is just plain common sense. That got me to thinking about safety, and when you’re doing any kind of handy work, safety needs to be an integral part of how you approach the job.
First, you have to protect yourself. That means things like gloves, safety glasses, proper footwear (steel-toed boots-yes, flip-flops-no), hearing protection, breathing protection, and hearing protection. Of course, you’re not going to necessarily use all of these at once, but this always has to be part of the thought process before you proceed with whatever the next step of the operation happens to be. Almost always — safety glasses. I’ve spent way too many times trying to get crap out of my eyes and I’m probably lucky I’m not blind by now.
Second, you have to be aware of the hazards around you. Is that wire or electrical box hot? Have you checked? Is that pipe under pressure? Is my ladder stable? Will something fall on top of me? Do I have a bunch of trip hazards I have to watch out for?
Third, be considerate of the people who may be around you. Cordon off public areas where there may be hazards. Clean up after yourself. Make sure that you have a clear path around your worksite so that people can go where they have to without stumbling around in your mess.
At any rate, I finished my digging and put up an effective barrier. Those traffic barriers sure come in handy! Here is a short video of the work.