All trench collapse deaths are preventable. As soon as everyone on a job site starts believing that we might actually make some progress. In just the past 10 days, there have been 4 trench collapse deaths across 3 separate incidents, further highlighting how far we still need to go.
On Saturday, April 6, a 43 year old man, who was working alone at a residential construction site in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio was found dead at the bottom of a collapsed 14 foot deep trench.
Just 2 days later on April 11, a 34 year old man was killed by a trench collapse while installing a culvert in a 20 foot deep trench in Marysville, Ohio.
On April 16, two workers were killed while working in a 15 foot deep trench at a home construction site in Windsor, Colorado.
None of the three trenches were protected by sloping, shoring, or shielding. None of the 4 men probably thought they were in any danger. It probably wasn’t any of their first time working in an unprotected trench. It took recovery crews several hours to dig out all of their bodies.
All four of the deaths could have been prevented.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s never been a problem.”
“It’s just clay, it’s fine”
“It’s not that deep.”
“I’m just going to be in there for a minute”
These are all excuses that I’ve heard many times in my relatively short construction career. It only takes one time for tragedy to strike and it’s definitely not worth dying for.
I’ve written a lot of trench safety articles over the past year, especially since trenching and excavation hazard reduction has been OSHA’s priority goal since 2018. If you’d like to learn more, please check out the past articles below: