OSHA Training Institute Releases Video on Trenching Safety

OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities. Trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose the greatest risk to workers’ lives.

When done safely, trenching operations can reduce worker exposure to other potential hazards including falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents involving mobile equipment.

To protect these workers, employers must think about preventing injuries and providing workers with the right equipment for the job.

A new video developed by OSHA Region VI Training Institute Education Centers offers guidance on how to prevent injuries and fatalities from common hazards in trenching and excavation. 

The one-hour video focuses on:   

  • Cave In Protection;
  • Best Practices;
  • Resources; and
  • Other Hazards in Trenching.

The OSHA standard for trenching and excavation – 29 CFR 1926.650-652, Subpart P – requires protective systems for trenches that are 5 feet or deeper unless the excavation occurs in stable rock.

A registered professional engineer must design protective systems for trenches that are at least 20 feet deep or approve tabulated data prepared for the system.

The Mid-South OTI Education Center states on its website. “When done safely, trenching operations can reduce worker exposure to other potential hazards, including falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents involving mobile equipment. To protect these workers, employers must think about preventing injuries and providing workers with the right equipment for the job.”

Registration is required to access the free video.

According to OSHA, 23 workers died in trench collapses in 2016, exceeding the combined total from 2014 and 2015.

The agency has made the issue a priority goal and reminds workers to slope, shore and shield trenches.