OSHA publishes resources for safe trenching operations

On October 3, 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released three new documents aimed to educate workers and employers about how dangerous trenching operations can be and what hazards are typically associated with the methods.

Within the construction industry, unprotected trenches have proven to be the deadliest hazards. In the past eight years, more than 200 workers have lost their lives when trenches succumbed to cave-ins, with hundreds more suffering major injuries.

"Cave–ins during excavations are some of the most common and grisliest causes of worker fatalities in construction, yet they are entirely preventable," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "These new educational materials provide clear guidance on the necessary steps that employers must take to protect workers in trenches."

The Trenching and Excavation Safety fact sheet provides an overview of possible hazards and the safety measures required to prevent them, and a new poster has been designed for placement at the work site. The poster depicts proper trenching techniques, and includes workers wearing safety products such as hard hats and hi-vis safety vests.

A "Working Safely in Trenches" quick card was also developed by the agency to be an easy to use reference guide about trenching hazards and safety measures with graphics.  

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