Trench-Related Fatalities on the Rise

All Facility Operating Engineers and Facility Stationary Engineer Technicians know the importance of safety. It is covered extensively with all program examinations, during job training, and is a standard regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Yet, accidents still happen, and every year a portion of these accidents end up being fatal, which is especially unfortunate because after further investigation, it is often found that these accidents could have been prevented. 

On July 14th, the Department of Labor released a press announcement regarding an increase in oversight with over 1,000 OSHA compliance officers being dispatched out across the U.S. to visit trench sites at any given time in order to follow the national emphasis program on trenching and excavation.

In the first 6 months of 2022, there were 22 trench-related fatalities across the U.S, which eclipses the 15 fatal documentations made during the entirety of 2021. Doug Parker, the assistant secretary of OSHA has stated that, "the number of workers needlessly dying and suffering serious injuries in trenching incidents must be stopped." The upholding of trenching excavation standards will continue to be examined, while penalties await employers and others who are accountable when actions or inactions lead to an at risk situation or death of a worker, including criminal referrals for federal or state prosecution. It goes without saying, but if the Department of Labor is bringing this to attention, then ASOPE® will be following the same mandates. 

OSHA is proactive in outreach, helping equip small and mid-sized businesses with On-Site Consultations. We want to remind our Facility Operating Engineers and Facility Stationary Engineer Technicians that there are no exceptions or short cuts when it comes to upholding the safety standards for trenching and excavation.

Please remember the following 3 phrases when you are on site:

  1. Slope It - Plan the angle of the trench before any procedural work is performed
  2. Shore It - Support all trench walls
  3. Shield It - Keep your shields with you! Trench shields could have saved the lives of 2 young workers in Jarrell, Texas had they not been sitting beside the excavation zone

Let’s not cut any corners and keep our trench and excavation workers safe. ASOPE® works closely with OSHA to ensure employees and workers get the training and certifications they need in order to do their jobs safely and without incident. Learn more about our programs here!

Reference: OSHA National News Release