Few people think about where their electricity or water comes from when they switch on a light or wash their dishes. However, Americans are on the job in trenches every day installing and repairing utility lines to ensure those conveniences are always available. It is critical for these workers to know how to stay safe while they perform their job.
To help reduce the risk of trenching accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) partners with the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) and the North American Excavation and Shoring Association (NAXSA) to promote Trench Safety Stand Down, a week dedicated to trench safety.
From June 18-23, OSHA, NUCA, and NAXSA will encourage companies that use trenches to conduct Trench Safety Stand Down activities, which can include a discussion or demonstration at a work site to illustrate the proper technique to safely dig and use a trench. OSHA regulations require employers to protect workers in trenches with specific slope parameters to avoid collapse and entrapment. When sloping is not feasible, trenches must have the proper cave-in protection.
These five key trench safety tips will help keep workers safe:
Ensure there’s a safe way to enter and exit.
Trenches must have cave-in protection.
Keep materials away from the edge of the trench.
Look for standing water and atmospheric hazards.
Never enter a trench unless it has been properly inspected.
President Trump’s Administration is committed to the health and safety of the American workforce. Through activities such as the Trench Safety Stand Down, we can assure all Americans can safely return home at the end of their shift.
To report an unsafe trench call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). For more information on trench safety, visit www.osha.gov.
Loren Sweatt is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health.