Best Practices for Safer Slope Work

Excavation work is not always completed on flat terrain.  Banks, slopes, or inclines are common on construction sites.  Establishing and following safeguards is critical for avoiding an incident when working on uneven types of terrain.  Below are a few best practices for safer slope work:  

  • Never exceed the safe operating ratios listed in the equipment operator’s manual for working directly on a slope.
  • Before work begins, have a competent person complete a documented slope inspection for signs of instability.  This person will help reduce hazards by ensuring that incline slopes are no steeper than the angle of repose and that inclines are removed or are properly supported before starting work.
  • Ensure the equipment track position is always perpendicular to the slope.
  • Level the machine by digging a shelf (or bench cut).  Material removed from the upper slope can be used to build up the lower slope and create a level surface.
  • When shutting down equipment, park on a level surface with all attachments lowered to the ground.

Additional safety measures include:

  • Properly train employees on equipment and safe-use practices before use and offer refresher training regularly.
  • Always wear your seatbelt while operating equipment.
  • Conduct a documented inspection to check the controls - confirming levers, gauges, and related systems are operating properly before use.
  • Perform regular preventative maintenance on equipment to ensure safe operation.

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Brian Pelan
Brian Pelan
OSE Director, Laramie, WY

Brian has over 20 years of professional experience in environmental, health, safety, and security (EHS&S). His areas of expertise include EHS&S risk management; ISO systems management & auditing; fluid recovery/recycling; and industrial hygiene services.