Washington — OSHA has unveiled a new sticker in English and Spanish, intended to raise awareness of trenching safety by reminding workers to “slope it, shore it, shield it.”
According to the agency, 23 construction workers were killed in trench collapses in 2016, exceeding the combined total from 2014 and 2015.
OSHA states, “When done safely, trenching operations can limit worker exposure to cave-ins, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and hazards from mobile equipment. The agency notes, “The best way to prevent a trench collapse is to slope or bench trench walls, shore trench walls with supports, or shield trench walls with trench boxes.”
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities.
Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment.
OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards.
A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.