ATLANTA, GA—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.
"Employees can be seriously or fatally injured in a matter of seconds when a trench collapses," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer, in Atlanta. "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 Spanish, trenching operations QuickCard, and updated Trenching and Excavation webpage.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.