Trench Safety Stand Down Week

June 17, 2019

The fourth annual Trench Safety Stand Down Week will be held June 17-21 this year. The event is sponsored by the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA), the North American Excavation Shoring Association (NAXSA), the Trench Shoring & Shielding Association (TSSA), and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Trenching and Excavation Hazards

Those who are involved in trenching and excavation face numerous hazards of the job, including:

  • Cave-in/trench collapse
  • Falling load, material or equipment
  • Heavy machinery
  • Oxygen deficiency or dangerous atmospheric conditions
  • Utility lines or pipes

Cave-ins are the main cause of trenching and excavation fatalities. With one cubic yard of soil weighing up to 3,000 pounds, workers can easily become trapped and crushed under the weight of falling trenches. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 23 workers were fatally injured in trench collapses in 2016 – more than the two prior years combined. The fatality rate for the industry is 112 percent higher than general construction, with most worker deaths being attributed to trench collapse and lack of protective systems.

OSHA Standard for Trenching and Excavation

According to OSHA, a trench is an underground excavation, no wider than 15-feet, that is deeper than it is wide. OSHA requires employers to provide protective systems for unstable trenches that are five feet or deeper. For trenches that are 20 feet deep or more, a professional engineer must either design the protective systems for the trench or approve the employer’s plan.

According to OSHA, there are three main types of protective systems:

  • Sloping – cutting the trench wall to ensure that it faces away from the excavation
  • Shoring– using supports for trench walls such as aluminum hydraulics
  • Shielding – installing trench boxes

OSHA recommends that workers keep heavy equipment away from trench edges and that they wear high-visibility clothing to minimize struck-by accidents. Employees should also have a safe means of ingress and egress such as a ladder, steps, or ramps, which should be kept within 25 feet for excavations that are four feet or deeper.

Trench Safety Stand Down Week Goals

The goals of the event are to raise awareness of trenching hazards and emphasize the importance of protective systems. Employers who wish to participate may do so by taking a break from the workday to discuss trench safety with employees. Participants will receive a NUCA Certificate of Participation and have their names published on NUCA’s website and in printed publications.

NUCA and the Occupational Safety Administration will be providing free online tools, including checklists, fact sheets, posters, and videos. NUCA encourages those in the following industries to hold a Stand Down and use the free materials provided:

  • Associations, unions, and educational institutes
  • Highway construction
  • Military
  • Plumbers
  • Residential construction
  • Safety equipment manufacturers
  • Utility construction

Philadelphia Work Accident Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Trench Collapses

If you were injured or you lost a loved one in a trenching accident, contact a Philadelphia work accident lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We can help you obtain the benefits to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.

Our experienced attorneys represent trench and excavation workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.