Trenches are dangerous, but many companies and workers continue to deny it. Or their actions make it seem like they do, at least. There’s never an excuse to let someone into a hole if it hasn’t been properly sloped, benched, or shored. Nevertheless, dozens of construction workers are killed and injured by trench collapses every year.
Last week, In Warren, Michigan, a 37 year old construction worker entered a trench towards the end of his shift in order to make a repair, according to WDIV Local News Detroit. Shortly after jumping down, without having the “proper equipment,” he found himself stuck in the hole and the walls then collapsed around him. The man was still able to breath, at that point, as he was only partially buried, but still unable to free himself.
WDIV reported that when emergency crews arrived on-site, another wall of the trench collapsed, which completely covered the man. The crews were able to give the man an oxygen mask and hook him up to an IV as they worked on shoring up the walls to start removing the dirt. In total, the rescue took around two hours and the man was then transferred to the hospital. His current condition is unknown and officials told WDIV that there’s a possibility he could lose some limbs, because of the weight of the soil cutting off blood circulation for so long.
WDIV filmed the final hour of the rescue, which you can watch via their Facebook page below. The man was pulled out of the trench around the 50-minute mark.
Full Story: Construction worker rescued from trench after hours underground at Warren construction site | WDIV Local News Detroit
Just over a year ago, in September of 2017, Hurricane Irma blew through Miami, Florida, bringing extremely high speed wind with it. The wind caused 3 cranes to collapse in southern Florida, 2 in downtown Miami and 1 more in Ft. Lauderdale. Interesting video of the dismantling of one of the failed cranes was shared on Youtube.
In September of 2017, OSHA’s new standard on exposure to respirable crystalline silica went into effect in the construction industry. The rule lowered the allowable exposure to the harmful substance to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, a measurement that we’re all familiar with [/sarcasm]. After a full year of enforcement, OSHA is considering making a change to the rule.
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Last week, we shared some newly updated Trenching and Excavation safety information from OSHA, which was part of their priority goals for 2018. Those updates included a public service announcement and updated online resources. The administration has just announced the update of their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trenching and excavation safety, which features a period of education and prevention outreach.
Earlier this year, it was announced that reducing injuries and deaths caused by trenching and excavation collapses would be a priority goal for OSHA in 2018. The administration planned to achieve this through increased inspection rates, public service announcements (PSA), updating online resources, and creating a better public-private partnership. Recently, OSHA made good on their promise to issue PSAs and update their online resources.
In a time where many industry groups are strongly fighting against new regulations of any kind, more than 130 organizations have co-signed a petition for OSHA to establish a national standard for heat protection across many industries.
As other organizations, like the NTSB, are busy analyzing the root cause of the pedestrian bridge collapse that killed 6 people and injured 8 others in Florida in March, OSHA has finished their investigation and issued safety violations to 5 different contractors.
OSHA had to fight hard to finally get its relatively new crystalline silica dust exposure regulations passed, and, once it did, the agency wasted no time enforcing the law. In the regulations first 6 months, OSHA issued 116 violations, but the highest penalty at that point was $9,239. More recently, the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Division (VOSH) has possibly issued a record citation to a highway contractor, a whopping $304,130 penalty.