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OSHA: An Unprotected Trench Is an Open Grave

OSHA: An Unprotected Trench Is an Open Grave

According to OSHA, two workers are killed every month in trenching operations. To address the hazards of excavation work, the agency has released new guidance materials, including a fact sheet, a poster and an easy-to-reference QuickCard.

“No worker’s life should end in a trench. Cave-ins during excavations are some of the most common and grisliest causes of worker fatalities in construction, yet they are entirely preventable,” said OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels.

Since 2003, more than 200 workers have died in trench cave-ins, and hundreds more have been seriously injured. The new guidance materials detail proper shoring and sloping; evaluations by competent persons; means of access/egress; atmospheric hazard testing; and protective systems. In addition, the guidance covers requirements under OSHA’s excavation standards.

“I am deeply troubled by the continued violations of OSHA’s trenching standards, many of which bring tragic results,” Michaels added. “These new educational materials provide clear guidance on the necessary steps that employers must take to protect workers in trenches.”

The new guidance materials are free and can be accessed online:

Fact Sheet: Trenching and Excavation
QuickCard: Working Safely in Trenches
Poster: Do Not Enter an Unprotected Trench!

Spanish-language versions of the documents are available. For more information, visit OSHA’s Publications page.

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