Title:
Earth retaining safety framework and system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A safety framework and a safety system are typically positioned in an excavation, the safety framework defining a work space within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety. The safety framework has a first substantially rectangular framework portion made from first elongate support members in the form of square hollow steel sections and second elongate support members in the form of square hollow steel sections secured to the first support members. A second substantially rectangular framework portion is secured to the first framework portion by means of spacer members in the form of square hollow steel sections. The spacer members are supported on mounting portions in the form of eight mounting blocks which project from the first support members and third support members respectively. The safety system comprises a safety framework and a plurality of panel members that are placed in a vertical arrangement around the framework. The panel members are positioned side by side abutting against the support members of the framework to form a wall around the framework. In this way soil or debris is prevented from entering the work space.



Inventors:
Glamuzina, Joseph Len (Spearwood, AU)
Application Number:
11/020149
Publication Date:
06/30/2005
Filing Date:
12/27/2004
Assignee:
GLAMUZINA JOSEPH L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
405/279, 405/274
International Classes:
E02D17/08; (IPC1-7): E02D5/00; E21D5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SINGH, SUNIL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLAMUZINA, JOSEPH LEN (38 EDELINE ST, SPEARWOOD, null, 6163, AU)
Claims:
1. A safety framework for positioning in an excavation, the framework comprising: a first substantially rectangular framework portion and a second substantially rectangular framework portion; and a plurality of elongate spacer members for retaining said second framework portion in a spaced apart relationship relative to the first framework portion, each said spacer member being mechanically coupled to said first and second framework portions by mounting means comprising a pin connection so as to facilitate a degree of lateral movement of the second framework portion relative to the first framework portion, and wherein said first and second framework portions together define a work space within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety.

2. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein said first framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed first elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed second elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said first support members and secured to said first support members in an abutting arrangement.

3. A safety framework as defined in claim 2, wherein said second framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed third elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed fourth elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said third support members and secured to said third support members in an abutting arrangement.

4. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein said first and second framework portions are of substantially the same size and shape.

5. A safety framework as defined in claim 2, wherein said mounting means are provided on the first support members and comprise first mounting portions for positioning of the spacer members on the first support members.

6. A safety framework as defined in claim 5, wherein said mounting means are also provided on the third support members and comprise second mounting portions for positioning of the spacer members on the third support members.

7. A safety framework as defined in claim 6, wherein when the framework is assembled, the first mounting portions and the second mounting portions are in substantially vertical alignment so that the spacer members are retained in a substantially vertical orientation.

8. A safety framework as defined in claim 5, wherein each of said first mounting portions is positioned respectively at a distance away from each end of the respective first support member.

9. A safety framework as defined in claim 8, wherein each of said second mounting portions is positioned respectively at a distance away from each end of the respective third support member.

10. A safety framework as defined in claim 5, wherein each of said mounting portions is positioned at an equal distance from the respective ends of the respective support members.

11. A safety framework as defined in claim 10, wherein said mounting portions are in the form of mounting blocks projecting from the first and third support members.

12. A safety framework as defined in claim 11, wherein said spacer members are generally hollow, and wherein the upper and lower ends of the hollow spacer members may be positioned over the mounting blocks respectively.

13. A safety framework as defined in claim 12, wherein each of the mounting blocks is provided with block apertures for alignment with spacer apertures provided in the ends of each spacer member.

14. A safety framework as defined in claim 13, wherein the spacer members are secured to the mounting blocks by positioning a securing means through the aligned block apertures and spacer apertures to provide said pin connection.

15. A safety framework as defined in claim 14, wherein said securing means includes some form of locking means for locking the securing means in the apertures.

16. A safety framework as defined in claim 15, wherein said securing means comprises a pin, and said locking means comprises a sprung safety clip.

17. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein the safety framework comprises four spacer members to retain the second framework portion in a substantially horizontal orientation spaced at a desired distance from the first framework portion.

18. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein the spacer members are of equal length so that the first framework portion and the second framework portion are in substantially parallel alignment.

19. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein said support members are generally rectangular in cross-section.

20. A safety framework as defined in claim 19, wherein the second support members and the fourth support members comprise connecting members extending from the ends thereof to facilitate connection of the first and second support members to each other, and of the third and fourth support members to each other.

21. A safety framework as defined in claim 20, wherein the connecting members are in the form of flanges extending from two sides of each end of the second and fourth support members respectively.

22. A safety framework as defined in claim 21, wherein the connecting members are secured by securing means received through aligned apertures in the flanges and the ends of the first and third support members respectively.

23. A safety framework as defined in claim 1, wherein the first framework portion further comprises attachment means to allow for attachment of the ends of chains or ropes to lower the framework into an excavation.

24. A safety system for positioning in an excavation, the system comprising: a framework comprising: a first substantially rectangular framework portion and a second substantially rectangular framework portion; and a plurality of spacer members for retaining said second framework portion in a spaced apart relationship relative to the first framework portion, each said spacer member being mechanically coupled to said first and second framework portions by mounting means comprising a pin connection so as to facilitate a degree of lateral movement of the second framework portion relative to the first framework portion; and a plurality of panel members adapted to be supported by the framework on the respective sides of the first and second framework portions, wherein said first and second framework portions and the panel members together define a work space within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety.

25. A safety system as defined in claim 24, wherein said first framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed first elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed second elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said first support members and secured to said first support members in an abutting arrangement.

26. A safety system as defined in claim 25, wherein said second framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed third elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed fourth elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said third support members and secured to said third support members in an abutting arrangement.

27. A safety system as defined in claim 24, wherein said first and second framework portions are of substantially the same size and shape.

28. A safety system as defined in claim 27, wherein the panel members are positioned in a substantially vertical orientation supported by the framework.

29. A safety system as defined in claim 26, wherein the panel members are positioned side by side abutting against the support members of the framework to form a wall around the framework so that soil or debris is prevented from entering the work space.

30. A safety system as defined in claim 29, wherein each panel member has an outer face and an inner face, said inner face abutting against the support members and the outer face preventing the soil entering the work space.

31. A safety system as defined in claim 30, wherein the inner face is provided with a raised pattern to reduce the friction of the inner face against the support members when the panel members are placed in position in the safety system.

32. A safety system as defined in claim 24, wherein a lower portion of each of the panel members is positioned in the ground below the floor of the excavation in use, whereby the panel members are anchored in the ground to retain the panel members in an upright configuration against the framework.

33. A safety system as defined in claim 32, wherein each panel member has first flanges extending from opposing vertical sides of the panel member whereby, in use, the panel members are positioned in side by side arrangement with the first flanges extending away from the work space.

34. A safety system as defined in claim 33, wherein each of the panel members is further provided with a second flange extending from the upper edge of each panel member to assist in inhibiting soil and debris from entering the work space.

35. A safety system as defined in claim 34, wherein the lower edge of each panel member has no flange extending there from, and thus forms a cutting edge which can be readily driven into the soil of the floor of the excavation.

36. A safety system as defined in claim 24, wherein the panel members are each provided with a panel aperture to allow for a crane hook or other means to lift the panel members for positioning in the system.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The invention relates to an earth retaining safety framework and safety system and relates particularly, though not exclusively, to such a safety framework and system for use in the protection of workers in excavations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In order to install or repair underground installations such as water and sewerage pipes or power lines, it is often necessary for workers to enter excavations in the area where the pipes or lines are located.

Due to the depths to which these excavations must be dug, there is a substantial risk of injury or death to workers entering these excavations in the event that the walls of an excavation collapse. In addition to the human risk, extensive property damage to the surrounding buildings, structures or infrastructures can occur.

As a result, safety devices have been developed to reinforce and support excavations, trenches, underground holes, bore-pits and manhole installations. For example, timber frameworks have been used to provide a means for retaining soil from collapsing in on an excavation. However, these timber frameworks have a number of disadvantages.

Timber frameworks are time-consuming to install, often taking up to half a day to position. This is largely due to the fact that the timber framework consists of a number of separate pieces that must be assembled and carefully aligned in the excavation before the framework can be used. Furthermore, it is difficult to obtain suitably long pieces of wood and there is the risk of breakage or splintering of the pieces of wood used in the framework. Timber often warps and can be subject to termite infestation requiring special treatment and storage to minimize possible damage.

The present invention was developed with a view to providing a safety framework and system that is easy to use and that can be quickly installed in an excavation.

References to prior art in this specification are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not to be taken as an admission that such prior art is part of the common general knowledge in Australia or elsewhere.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a safety framework for positioning in an excavation, the framework comprising: a first substantially rectangular framework portion and a second substantially rectangular framework portion; and a plurality of elongate spacer members for retaining said second framework portion in a spaced apart relationship relative to the first framework portion, each said spacer member being mechanically coupled to said first and second framework portions by mounting means comprising a pin connection so as to facilitate a degree of lateral movement of the second framework portion relative to the first framework portion, and wherein said first and second framework portions together define a work space within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety.

Preferably said first framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed first elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed second elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said first support members and secured to said first support members in an abutting arrangement.

Preferably said second framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed third elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed fourth elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said third support members and secured to said third support members in an abutting arrangement. Preferably said first and second framework portions are of substantially the same size and shape.

Preferably said mounting means are provided on the first support members and comprise first mounting portions for positioning of the spacer members on the first support members. Preferably said mounting means are also provided on the third support members and comprise second mounting portions for positioning of the spacer members on the third support members. When the framework is assembled, the first mounting portions and the second mounting portions are preferably in substantially vertical alignment so that the spacer members are retained in a substantially vertical orientation. Preferably each of said first mounting portions is positioned respectively at a distance away from each end of the respective first support member. Preferably each of said second mounting portions is positioned respectively at a distance away from each end of the respective third support member. Preferably each of said mounting portions is positioned at an equal distance from the respective ends of the respective support members.

The support members and the spacer members are preferably generally square or rectangular in cross-section. The support members and the spacer members are preferably made of metal such as steel or aluminum. These components may be hollow to reduce the weight of the components.

The mounting portions may be in the form of mounting blocks projecting from the first and third support members. In this way, the upper and lower ends of the hollow spacer members may be positioned over the first and second mounting blocks respectively. Preferably each of the mounting blocks is provided with block apertures for alignment with spacer apertures in the ends of each spacer member. Thus, the spacer members may be secured to the mounting blocks by positioning a securing means such as a pin or a bolt through the aligned block apertures and spacer apertures to provide said pin connection. Preferably the securing means includes some form of safety locking means such as a ring clip or a sprung safety clip.

This way of retaining the first and second framework portions in a spaced apart relationship provides a relatively rigid framework whilst at the same time allowing some lateral movement of the second framework portion relative to the first framework portion. The rigidity of the framework allows for the assembly of the framework outside of the excavation, if required, so that the framework may simply be lowered into the excavation ready for use. The small amount of lateral movement of the framework portions means that the framework can be adjusted to level the framework on the floor of the excavation. The slight lateral movement also allows some stress relief for the support members.

Preferably, the safety framework comprises four spacer members to retain the second framework portion in a substantially horizontal orientation spaced at a desired distance from the first framework portion. The distance may be varied by changing the length of the spacer members to change the height of the work space as required for a particular excavation depth.

Preferably the spacer members are of equal length so that the first framework portion and the second framework portion are in substantially parallel alignment.

The lengths of the first and second support members and the third and fourth support members may also be varied according to the required dimensions of the excavation.

Preferably the second support members and the fourth support members comprise connecting members extending from the ends thereof to facilitate connection of the first and second support members to each other, and of the third and fourth support members to each other. Preferably the connecting members are in the form of flanges extending from two sides of each end of the second and fourth support members respectively. The connecting members are preferably secured by securing means such as screws, bolts or clips received through aligned apertures in the flanges and ends of the first and third support members respectively.

The first and third support members may be about 1800 mm in length and the second and fourth support members may be about 1000 mm in length. Typically the support members are made from 3 mm steel with a square cross section of about 100 mm by 100 mm. The spacer members may be about 1000 mm in length and made from 3 mm steel with a square cross section of about 50 mm by 50 mm.

The safety framework may further comprise third, fourth and further framework portions analogous to the first and second framework portions as are required for larger excavations. Further spacer members would of course be required in these cases to maintain the third, fourth and further framework portions in spaced apart relationship from the second and following framework portions.

The first support members may further comprise attachment means such as lugs or hooks. This would allow for attachment of the ends of chains or ropes to lower the framework into the excavation, for example by means of a crane of other lifting system. Conveniently there may be four hooks, with two on each first support member in a spaced apart relationship.

As already noted, forming the safety framework from steel, aluminum or strong plastic material allows the framework to be readily assembled either outside or inside the excavation. The small amount of lateral movement of the framework portions means that the framework can be easily adjusted to suit the level of the floor of the excavation.

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a safety system for positioning in an excavation, the system comprising: a framework comprising: a first substantially rectangular framework portion and a second substantially rectangular framework portion; and a plurality of spacer members for retaining said second framework portion in a spaced apart relationship relative to the first framework portion, each said spacer member being mechanically coupled to said first and second framework portions by mounting means comprising a pin connection so as to facilitate a degree of lateral movement of the second framework portion relative to the first framework portion; and a plurality of panel members adapted to be supported by the framework on the respective sides of the first and second framework portions, wherein said first and second framework portions and the panel members together define a work space within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety.

Preferably said first framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed first elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed second elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said first support members and secured to said first support members in an abutting arrangement. Preferably said second framework portion comprises a pair of substantially parallel, opposed third elongate support members and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed fourth elongate support members substantially perpendicular to said third support members and secured to said third support members in an abutting arrangement. Preferably said first and second framework portions are of substantially the same size and shape.

Preferably the panel members are positioned in a substantially vertical orientation supported by the framework. Preferably the panel members are positioned side by side abutting against the support members of the framework to form a wall around the framework. In this way soil or debris is prevented from entering the work space of the excavation.

Preferably each panel member has an outer face and an inner face. The inner face preferably abuts against the support members and the outer face contacts the soil of the excavation if the soil moves towards the framework to prevent the soil entering the work space.

The inner face may be provided with a raised pattern such as a “checkerplate” pattern to reduce the friction of the inner face against the support members when the panel members are placed in position in the safety system.

When the system is in use, a lower portion of each of the panel members is preferably positioned in the ground below the floor of the excavation. This allows the panel members to be anchored in the ground with the weight of the soil from the excavation walls pressing on the outer face of each panel member to retain the panel members in an upright configuration against the framework.

Preferably each panel member has first flanges extending from opposing vertical sides of the panel member. In use, the panel members are positioned in side by side arrangement with the first flanges extending away from the work space. In this way, the first flanges of a first panel member abut the first flanges of a second panel member positioned adjacent the first panel member. Thus the panel members cannot slide over each other and are held apart in a vertical alignment so as to prevent soil and debris from the excavation from entering the work space.

Each of the panel members may further be provided with a second flange extending from the upper edge of each panel member to assist in retaining soil and debris from entering the work space. The second flange also provides a hitting surface to allow the panel member to be hammered into the floor of the excavation. The first and second flanges assist in providing the panel members with rigidity and strength which is important in preventing soil or debris from entering the work space. The lower edge of each panel member preferably has no flange extending there from. Thus the lower edge of each panel member forms a cutting edge which can be readily driven into the soil of the floor of the excavation.

The panel members may each be provided with a panel aperture to allow for a crane hook or other means to lift the panel members for positioning in the system. Preferably the panel aperture is positioned at an upper end of each panel member.

Preferably the panel members are formed of 3 mm steel checkerplate and are dimensioned 600 mm by 2000 mm. With these dimensions, the safety system comprises 10 panel members with three being positioned on each of two sides of the framework and two being positioned on each of the other two sides.

Throughout the specification, unless the context requires otherwise, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising”, will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The nature of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of a specific embodiment of the safety framework and safety system, given by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a safety framework according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the safety framework of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a panel member of a safety system according to the invention showing the inner face of the panel member;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the panel member of FIG. 3 showing the outer face of the panel member;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a safety system according to the present invention positioned in an excavation;

FIGS. 6(a), (b) and (c) are schematic top, side and end views respectively of a preferred embodiment of a safety pin and clip used in the safety framework of FIGS. 1 and 2; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the safety system of FIG. 5 illustrating a worker at work in the work space.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A preferred embodiment of a safety framework generally indicated by the numeral 10 and a safety system generally indicated by the numeral 12 will now be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings. The safety framework 10 and the safety system 12 are typically positioned in an excavation 14 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7, the safety framework defining a work space 16 within which a worker can work in the excavation in relative safety.

The safety framework 10 typically comprises a first substantially rectangular framework portion 18 having a pair of substantially parallel, opposed first elongate support members 20 in the form of square hollow steel sections and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed second elongate support members 22 in the form of square hollow steel sections secured to the first support members 20. The safety framework 10 further comprises a second substantially rectangular framework portion 24 having a pair of substantially parallel, opposed third elongate support members 26 in the form of square hollow steel sections and a pair of substantially parallel, opposed fourth elongate support members 28 in the form of square hollow steel sections secured to the third support members 26. In this embodiment the first and second framework portions 18 and 24 are of substantially the same size and shape.

The safety framework 10 further comprises spacer members 30 in the form of square hollow steel sections for retaining said second framework portion 24 in a spaced apart relationship relative to the first framework portion 18. As can best be seen in FIG. 2, the spacer members 30 are supported on mounting portions in the form of eight mounting blocks 32 which project from the first support members 20 and third support members 26 respectively. In this way, the upper and lower ends of the hollow spacer members 30 may be positioned over the mounting blocks 32 respectively. When the framework 10 is assembled, the mounting blocks 32 are preferably in substantially vertical alignment so that the spacer members 30 are retained in a substantially vertical orientation. Preferably each of the mounting blocks 32 is positioned respectively at an equal distance away from each end of the respective first and third support members 20 and 26.

Preferably each of the mounting blocks 32 is provided with block apertures for alignment with spacer apertures in the upper and lower ends of each spacer member 30. Thus, the spacer members 30 may be secured to the mounting blocks by positioning a securing means such as a pin or a bolt through the aligned block apertures and spacer apertures to provide a pin connection. As can be seen most clearly in FIG. 2, the block apertures are aligned with the longitudinal direction of the respective support members 20 and 26. The upper and lower ends of the spacer members 30 are secured to the mounting blocks 32 by inserting a safety pin 34 through the aligned block apertures and spacer apertures. The safety pin 34 thus effectively forms a pivot axis about which the spacer members 30 can pivot slightly. The pivoting movement of the spacer members 30 about this pin connection is constrained by the mounting blocks 32, which are only slightly smaller in dimensions than the internal dimensions of the hollow ends of the spacer members 30. A sprung safety clip 36 is provided to lock each safety pin 34 in its respective aperture. As can be seen most clearly in FIG. 6, the safety pin 34 has a handle portion 35 at one end, and an aperture 37 at the other end in which the safety clip 36 may be inserted to lock it in the aligned apertures.

Thus the spacer members 30 are securely attached to the first and second framework portions 18 and 24 so that the overall framework 10 is substantially rigid. However, due to the way in which the spacer members 30 are attached to the first and second framework portions 18 and 24 a degree of lateral movement of the second framework portion 24 relative to the first framework portion 18 is possible. The rigidity of the framework allows the framework 10 to be assembled outside of the excavation, if required, so that the framework may simply be lowered into the excavation ready for use. The small amount of lateral movement of the framework portions 18 and 24 means that the framework 10 can be easily adjusted to level the framework on the floor of the excavation. The slight lateral movement also allows some stress relief for the support members.

The second support members 22 and the fourth support members 28 have connecting means in the form of flanges 38 extending from the ends thereof. As can best be seen in FIG. 2, the flanges 38 have two sides, like a section of angle iron, and in this way provide a means of securely fixing the first and second support members 20 and 22 to each other, and the third and fourth members 26 and 28 to each other, due to the overlapping arrangement formed between the various components. As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, the first and second support members 20 and 22 and the third and fourth support members 26 and 28 respectively are secured to each other using the pins 34 and clips 36 as previously described. The pins 34 are received through apertures in the flanges 38 that are aligned with corresponding apertures in the respective support members 20 and 26.

Advantageously the first support members 20 are provided with four hooks 40 to allow for attachment of chains or ropes to lift the safety framework 10 and lower it into an excavation using a lifting device, such as a crane or excavator. The same hooks 40 can be used for lifting the framework 10 out of the excavation when the work is complete.

In the illustrated embodiment the first and third support members 20 and 26 are about 1800 mm in length and the second and fourth support members 22 and 28 are about 1000 mm in length. Typically the support members are made from 3 mm steel with a square cross section of about 100 mm by 100 mm. The spacer members 30 in this embodiment are about 1000 mm in length and made from 3 mm steel with a square cross section of about 50 mm by 50 mm.

The safety framework 10 of the invention may be configured for trenches of different sizes. For example, the spacer members 30 may be made of different lengths depending on the depth of the excavation. The safety framework 10 may of course have further framework portions positioned above the second framework portion to be suitable for a deeper excavation.

The preferred embodiment of the safety system 12 comprises a safety framework 10 and a plurality of panel members 44 that are placed in a vertical arrangement around the framework 10, as can best be seen in FIG. 5. Preferably the panel members 44 are positioned side by side abutting against the support members of the framework 10 to form a wall around the framework. In this way soil or debris is prevented from entering the work space of the excavation.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the panel members 44 have an outer face 46 provided with a raised “checkerplate” pattern 48, and an inner face 50. The inner face 50 preferably abuts against the support members and the outer face 46 contacts the soil of the excavation, if the soil moves towards the framework 10, to prevent the soil entering the work space. The panel members 44 are further provided with first flanges 52 extending from the opposing vertical edges of the panel members 44. In use, the panel members 44 are positioned in side by side arrangement with the first flanges 52 extending away from the work space. In this way, the first flanges 52 of a first panel member abut the first flanges 52 of a second panel member positioned adjacent the first panel member. Thus the panel members 44 cannot slide over each other and are held side by side in vertical alignment so as to prevent soil and debris from the excavation from entering the work space as can be seen in FIGS. 5 and 7.

The panel members 44 also have second flanges 54 extending from their upper edges. The second flanges 54 present a surface for hammering of the panels into the ground so that the main body of the panel member is not damaged by the hammering action. The first and second flanges 52 and 54 assist in providing the panel members 44 with rigidity and strength which is important in preventing soil or debris from entering the work space. The lower edge 56 of each panel member preferably has no flange extending there from. Thus the lower edge 56 of the panel members 44 presents a cutting edge which can be readily driven into the soil of the floor of the excavation, to allow ease of positioning of the panels in the ground of the excavation 14.

The panel members 44 are also provided with a panel aperture 58 at the upper end thereof for attachment of the panel member to a chain or rope used to lower the panel members into the excavation 14. Preferably the panel members 44 are formed of 3 mm steel checkerplate and are dimensioned 600 mm by 2000 mm. With these dimensions, the safety system 12 comprises 10 panel members 44 with three being positioned on each of two sides of the framework 10 and two being positioned on each of the other two sides as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7.

As can be seen in FIG. 5, in use the panel members 44 extend at their upper edges beyond the second framework 24 and at their lower edges below the first framework 18 into the ground of the excavation 14 as shown by the dotted lines. This allows the panel members 44 to be anchored in the ground with the weight of the soil from the excavation walls pressing on the outer face of each panel member to retain the panel members in an upright configuration against the framework 10.

As can be seen in FIGS. 5 and 7, the safety system 12 of this embodiment comprises ten panel members 44 arranged around the framework 10. The complete installed safety system 12 is shown in FIG. 7 where a worker 60 has commenced work in the work space 16 in the safety of the safety system 12.

Now that a preferred embodiment of the safety framework and safety system have been described in detail, it will be apparent that it provides a number of advantages, including the following:

(i) It is of simple design, making it inexpensive to manufacture and easy to install.

(ii) It can be quickly assembled, either prior to lowering into an excavation, or in situ in the excavation.

(iii) It can be readily modified to suit any size excavation.

(iv) Due to the manner in which the spacer members are mechanically coupled to the framework portions via a pin connection, a degree of lateral movement of the framework portions is facilitated, which permits the framework to be easily adjusted to level the framework on the floor of the excavation.

It will be readily apparent to persons skilled in the relevant arts that various modifications and improvements may be made to the foregoing embodiments, in addition to those already described, without departing from the basic inventive concepts of the present invention. For example, it is not essential that the spacer members be square hollow sections; tubular sections would also function equally well. Therefore, it will be appreciated that the scope of the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described.