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OSHA Increases Focus on Trenching and Excavation Hazards

Jul 15, 2022

Twenty-two workers have died as a result of trenching and excavation hazards this year, surpassing the year-end total of 15 from 2021 and prompting OSHA to launch enhanced enforcement initiatives under its national emphasis program for excavations. According to the agency, its compliance officers will perform more than 1,000 trench inspections nationwide where they may stop by and inspect any excavation site during their daily duties.

“OSHA is calling on all employers engaged in trenching and excavation activities to act immediately to ensure required protections are fully in place every single time their employees step down into or work near a trench,” says OSHA Administrator Doug Parker. “Every one of these tragedies could have been prevented had employers complied with OSHA standards.”

OSHA standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than five feet and mandate that soil and other materials be kept at least two feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards, and have a safe means of entering and exiting prior to allowing a worker to enter.


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