5 Important Tips for Staying Safe While Working in Trenches

via OSHA

via OSHA

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.

OSHA’s PSA on trench safety, entitled “5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe in a Trench” is a quick, 45-second video highlighting the key elements to avoiding cave-in:

  1. Ensure safe entry and exit – a means of egress must be provided when a trench is at least 4 feet deep and must not require more than 25 feet of travel.

  2. Trenches must have cave-in protection – slope it, shore it, or shield it

  3. Keep materials away from the edge of a trench – heavy loads from material or equipment can put too much pressure on trench walls.

  4. Look for standing water or other hazards – standing water can greatly reduce the strength of the soil

  5. Never enter a trench unless it has been inspected – a competent person is required to inspect trenches

In addition to the 45-second video, which you can watch below, OSHA also updated their Trench Safety Quick Card in both English and Spanish. To report an unsafe trench to OSHA, you can call 1-800-321-6742.