At the end of the day whose guidance should we follow? That of the IFA
which as no statutory power behind it or that of the HSE? To my mind the
IFA guidance should be updated to take into account the HSE legislation and
not left so ambigous that the site directors to save money can get away with
a breach of H&S. As part of the H&S we as employees have a statutory right
to make sure that we protect the H&S of ourselves and our colleagues and
with that in mind I wonder how any company employing us would take kindly to
our refusal to work in any trench that we consider unsafe.
I personally wouldn't want to get into a hole of 1m or more without shoring
especially if the geology one was working in was say of Sand which is
unstable at the best of times.
With all that said I cannot think of any company I have worked for that
hasn't shored the sides of deep trenches or stepped the trench that I have
worked for. In fact one actively refused to allow us into a 4m deep trench
to recover an artefact until the shoring was completed, even though the
"hole" was over 6m wide and it would have been safe to have "jumped" in
retrieved the artefact and got back out again.
Why as our advisory panel do the IFA not make clearer guidelines? Do they
not want to upset the companies that are members? Or is it like our
previous arguments that they are just there to give some sort of front to
the government watchdogs