OSHA’s Initiative on Trenching and Excavation Hazards

Source: Tracy Fox - 123RF

Working in trenches and excavations can be hazardous, and trench collapses pose great risk to workers.

To raise awareness of preventable incidents, compliance assistance specialists with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Southeast are conducting outreach to educate employers and employees on the hazards associated with trenching and excavation work.

OSHA area offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi, are reaching out to excavation employers, industry associations, equipment rental organizations, water utility suppliers, and national and local plumbing companies to educate them to identify trenching hazards.

Compliance assistance specialists will also remind employers of the requirements to implement methods to prevent collapses, such as sloping trench walls, shoring the walls with supports, or shielding walls with trench boxes.

OSHA Regional Administrator, Kurt A. Petermeyer said, “Employees can be seriously or fatally injured in a matter of seconds when a trench collapses”, adding, “Trench-related injuries are preventable when employees are trained properly and the required protections are in place.”

In October 2018, OSHA updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Trenching and Excavation to continue support for compliance assistance and inspection programs that address trenching and excavation operations.

The Agency provides a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards, including a “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster, hard hat stickers in English and Spanishtrenching operations QuickCard, and updated Trenching and Excavation webpage.