Trench-Related Fatalities on the Rise

  • Author | Bob Lynch
  • 8/4/2022 7:30 am

OSHA recently reported a significant increase in U.S. trench-related fatalities in the first six months of 2022. During this time period, 22 workers were killed, while 15 fatalities occurred in all of 2021.

In response, OSHA is promoting its National Emphasis Program for excavations, originally created in 2018, to “reduce or eliminate workplace hazards associated with trenching and excavation operations.” 

Trenching is a high-risk hazard and losing even one team member is too many. As a risk management partner with our members, PE Partners provides training resources through EHS Hero, online training as part of Local Government Risk Academy, and training videos in our DVD library geared toward safe trenching and excavating.

OSHA has provided resources on trenching hazards and solutions, which include an alertpostercompliance directivesquick card and safety video on their webpage.

There should always be a safe way to enter and exit trenches, and materials should be kept away from trench edges. Workers should always be cognizant of standing water or atmospheric hazards, and should never enter a trench that has not been thoroughly inspected.

Key Methods for preventing cave-ins include:

  • SLOPE or bench trench walls
  • SHORE trench walls with supports, or
  • SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes

Proper training and adequate resources can prevent these types of accidents. If you have questions about the resources listed above, please contact your regional casualty loss control consultant.