Construction, Personnel Safety

OSHA Provides Trenching Compliance Assistance Resources

In a recent news release, OSHA announced the development of a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards. OSHA’s goal is to increase awareness of trenching hazards in construction, educate job creators and workers on safe cave-in prevention solutions, and decrease the number of trench collapses. These resources, which continue the goals of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently announced Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI), encourage and facilitate compliance evaluations.

Excavator digging trench on a construction site

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Trench-related injuries are preventable when workers are properly trained and the required protections are in place. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders and providing new compliance assistance resources.

  • U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recorded audio public service announcements in English and Spanish that highlight effective ways to stay safe when working around trenches and excavations. A 45-second video, “5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe,” also highlights well-known and proven safety measures that can eliminate hazards and prevent worker injuries.
  • An updated trenching operations QuickCard provides information on protecting workers around trenches, including daily inspections, and trench wall safety.
  • OSHA’s revised “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses: SLOPE or bench trench walls, SHORE trench walls with supports, or SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes. The poster is available in English and Spanish.
  • An updated trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions.

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program provides valuable services for job creators that are separate from enforcement. OSHA recently published an analysis demonstrating how the agency’s On-Site Consultation Program contributes $1.3 billion to the national economy each year. Job creators who implement workplace improvements can reduce lost time due to injuries and illnesses, improve employee morale, increase productivity, and lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

OCI, housed within the DOL’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, fosters a compliance assistance culture within the Department designed to complement its ongoing enforcement efforts. This Office focuses on helping enforcement agencies more effectively use online resources to deliver information and compliance assistance to help the American people. In August 2018, OCI launched Worker.gov and Employer.gov to provide information about workers’ rights and the responsibilities of job creators toward their workers.