Trenching Safety

6 Meeting Kits | 4 Online Courses | 5 Safety Quizzes | 6 Fatality Reports | 28 Articles & Expert Guidance Tips

A 43-year-old worker was in a narrow ditch replacing a sewer line when a wall of dirt collapsed and buried him. The trench, which was nine feet deep, was not properly sloped.

This story sounds all too familiar, and as usual was easily preventable.

Working in trenches has unique safety hazards. From the possibility of a cave-in or collapse, to toxic gases that can be released during excavation.

As with most jobs, trenching also requires its own unique set of PPE and this should be explained carefully to workers.

Use these resources to educate workers on the safety protection available to them while working in trenches. Be sure to discuss sloping, shoring, and shielding. As well, discuss the hazards they face and what can go wrong when not paid attention to.

Meeting Kits

Dig Deep for Trenching and Excavation Safety

The fatality rate for excavation work is more than 100 percent higher than the rate for general construction work. On average, two workers are killed every month in trench collapses.

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Don't Let A Trench Be Your Grave

Danny Meggison was an experienced trench worker, but he made a big mistake that left his eight-year-old son without a father.

The 43-year-old worker was in a narrow ditch replacing a sewer line when a wall of dirt collapsed and buried him. The trench, which was nine feet deep, was not properly sloped.

This tragedy sounds all too familiar, and as usual was easily preventable. Workers should know that trenches five feet deep or greater require a protective system to prevent cave-ins. Unprotected trenches should never be entered, regardless of what any supervisor says.

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Don't Get Buried by Your Work

Trenching and excavating involve serious hazards. Machine-dug areas can present cave-ins, dust and airborne contaminants. If excavating, you need to know how to prevent these problems.

If you must dig a trench, particularly one deeper than chest height, consider the risk. Each year excavation and trenching cave-ins cause thousands of injuries and dozens of deaths.

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Working Safely in the Trenches

Excavation cave-ins cause about 75 deaths and 1,000 injuries a year in the US, including about140 that result in permanent disability.

Much more hazardous than they may appear, excavations can collapse unexpectedly and bury a worker or a bystander.

It is unsafe to enter an excavation unless it is properly supported. A hole dug for a basement, or a trench dug for utilities are some of the kinds of excavations which need to be shored up or sloped properly. The support must be adequate to handle the pressure of the soil and water content, as well as other pressures, such as piles of excavated dirt and rock, nearby buildings, traffic and heavy equipment.

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Safety In The Trenches

Digging holes for new landscape plantings or playground equipment footings are just a couple of the projects a maintenance worker might tackle with a shovel or powered digging equipment.

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Identifying Confined Space Hazards

Even if your job doesn’t involve entering a confined space, if there is one nearby it is important to be aware of the dangers. Toxic gas is a common atmospheric hazard. It might be created by a substance stored in the space or seeping in, gasoline vapors from an underground fuel spill or naturally-occurring methane from rotting organic material. Oxygen enrichment can be another atmospheric hazard. Other hazards include flammable gases, vapors or dusts, electric shocks, temperature extremes, shifting materials such as sand, equipment in motion and slippery surfaces.

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Online Courses

Excavation and Trenching

Many projects, both in construction and general industry, require trenches and excavations. For example, new buildings need water, gas and electrical supply lines, which are usually buried under our roads, yards and fields. Learners who complete this course will know how to recognize the potential hazards of working in or around trenches and excavations, and the OSHA-required protective measures they must employ on the job. This course is intended for general-industry and construction employees who, during their regular work duties, are required to work in or around trenching or excavation operations, and will assist the employer in meeting OSHA standards on excavations.

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Excavation and Trenching for Oil & Gas

Many projects in oil and gas operations require trenches and excavations. Learners who complete this course will know how to recognize the potential hazards of working in or around trenches and excavations, and the OSHA-required protective measures they must employ on the job. This course is intended for oil and gas employees who, during their regular work duties, are required to work in or around trenching or excavation operations, and will assist the employer in meeting OSHA standards on excavations.

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