June 18-23: Host a Trench Safety Stand Down

Excavation and trenching are among the most dangerous construction operations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), two workers are killed every month in trench cave-ins. Other potential dangers are falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and accidents involving mobile equipment. Employers must ensure that workers enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address these concerns.

Safe practices include:

  • Know where underground utilities are before digging
  • Keep excavated soil (spoils) and other materials at least 2’ from trench edges
  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges
  • Identify any equipment or activities that could affect trench stability
  • Test for atmospheric hazards such as low oxygen, hazardous fumes, and toxic gases when workers are more than 4’ deep
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm or other water intrusion
  • Inspect trenches after any occurrence that could have changed conditions in the trench
  • Do not work under suspended or raised loads and materials
  • Ensure that personnel wear high-visibility or other suitable clothing when exposed to vehicular traffic

From June 18-June 23, 2108, the National Utility Contractor Association (NUCA) is hosting Trench Safety Stand-Down, a week-long event to focus on trench and excavation hazards.

To host your own stand-down, you can:

  • Host a toolbox talk or other safety activity to draw attention to the specific hazards related to working in or around trenches and excavations
  • Take a break and talk about trench safety
  • Provide training for all workers
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