Trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. I’ll say it again: trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. So if they’re preventable, how do they continue to happen every year? Ignorance to safety rules, lack of supervision, pressures of time and money, and sometimes, outright laziness are all factors in trench related deaths and injuries. I’ve been on too many jobsites in my relatively young construction career that have extremely poor procedures for working in trenches and I’ve gotten every excuse in the book. The vast majority don’t even understand the basic requirements. At 4 feet deep, you need to provide a means of egress, at 5 feet deep you need proper protective systems, and keep soil and other materials 2 feet away from the edge of the trench. Those are the basics, everyone should know them.
Despite every construction company’s claim that safety comes first, trench collapse deaths are still happening and, this year, they’re happening way more often. OSHA just released a graphic showing the amount of trench injuries and deaths in each of the past 5 years and 2016 has more deaths than 2014 and 2015 COMBINED (23 in 2016 vs 11 each in 2015 and 2014). Trench collapses happen fast and often have devastating results, as one cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds.
"Trench deaths have more than doubled nationwide since last year - an alarming and unacceptable trend that must be halted," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in a press release. "There is no excuse. These fatalities are completely preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every construction contractor should know."
Everyone is responsible for adhering to trench safety standards, as well. Just this year, both a foreman and a general contractor were convicted of criminally negligent homicide after a laborer was killed by a trench collapse in New York. Besides being criminally convicted, companies can also face huge fines for negligence, like a recent $274,359 fine an Ohio company was just given after an employee was crushed to death by a trench collapse in June of 2016. According to OSHA, the company failed to provide trench cave-in protection, failed to protect workers form excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench walls, and failed to train workers in recognizing trench hazards.
If you’d like to read more about OSHA’s trenching safety standards, you can do so by clicking here.
When OSHA raised its citation penalty amounts for the first time since 1990 in 2016, it raised them 78% to catch up with inflation over that many years. It wasn’t just a one time increase, however, as the amended Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 no longer exempts OSHA from its requirements.
With cranes being on many construction sites, it’s easy for workers to get complacent. Hundreds or thousands of construction materials can be lifted by cranes throughout the project, but all it takes is one time for a disaster to occur.
Getting your communications right is critical on any construction site. For effective planning and coordination, for efficient management of different teams and for health and safety, having a reliable means of keeping everyone in touch at all times is essential.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016. Among all industries, fatal work injuries rose 7% in 2016 (5,190 deaths) over 2015 (4,836 deaths). The fatal injury rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers also rose from 3.4 to 3.6 year over year.
If you have not submitted your company’s OSHA Form 300A electronically through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) yet, you only have a few days left to do so.
Cranes are a necessary and useful piece of equipment on most construction sites, but extreme caution must be taken when working with them, as any failure could be catastrophic or, at the very least, very costly.
The blowing snow of winter does not bring the construction industry to a halt. If you work in the winter, follow these tips to stay safe and warm.
OSHA has long used the language in the OSH act to find and hold multiple employers accountable for the actions of another on construction job sites. For decades, OSHA would not only cite the employer whose employees were exposed to hazards, but would also cite the employer who was designated the “controlling employer” on-site, which is most often the general contractor.
There is an opportunity to revolutionize the way we protect construction workers from fall hazards while dramatically reducing waste and inefficiency in the construction industry. The Hilmerson Safety Rail System™ was designed and engineered with feedback from industry experts with one goal in mind: Reinvent the guardrail to eliminate inefficiencies, cut costs, send zero waste to landfills, and improve workplace safety.
It has not been a good few months to use portable toilets on a construction job site. In September, a 28 year old man was run over by a dump truck while using a portable toilet on his job site in Louisiana. A couple months later, another accident involving a portable toilet has happened.