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To Shore or to Shield? That is the Question.

trench shoringSystems such as shoring, shielding, sloping and benching protect workers from a cave-in at an excavation site. Any of these systems will adequately protect workers at the site, but does one system have an advantage over the others? Planners of a construction project consider many factors when choosing a protective system, including the length of time of the project and the type of soil, and they often conclude that shoring and shielding provide a better solution than sloping or benching.

Shoring supports the sides of an excavation with posts, wales, struts and sheeting made from timber, mechanical or hydraulic structures. It is the preferred method of protection when sloping is impractical due to the location or depth of the trench. This system delivers even pressure, and it can be installed without workers having to enter the trench.

A shield, or trench box, does not prevent a cave-in, but rather shields workers from harm in the event of a cave-in. It's the preferred protective system for a continuous installation, such as laying pipe. Workers can simply drag the box along with the progress of the work.

Sloping and benching protect workers from cave-in hazards by cutting back the earthen walls of a trench at an angle or by stepping them off. Sloping is a method of digging the trench walls at an angle to reduce the risk of collapse, and benching involves cutting steps into the walls of the excavation.

For most applications, sloping or benching would be impractical because of the amount of space required to dig the trench at the correct angle. Many excavations must be dug in busy areas in the presence of other utilities and traffic. Also, any soil which is removed must eventually be put back and compacted, so removing extra soil for sloping and benching would cost extra time and money.

Shoring and shielding provide clear advantages over benching and sloping. Keeping the trench walls vertical limits fuel consumption and the volume of dirt excavated, and it makes restoration of yards, pavement and asphalt easier. The proper use of shielding and shoring provides not only a safe working environment, but is also more economical than sloping or benching.

Neff has shoring and shielding equipment and specially trained personnel to help you make the most appropriate choice for your job. For more information contact Neff Rental or call us at 888-709-6333. We are ready to assist you with your equipment needs.