At South Dakota 811, we view ourselves not only as a damage prevention organization, but also a public safety organization.
Trench safety is a natural fit with underground facility damage – since much of the work done on buried facilities requires a trench.
A trench without proper shoring or no shoring at all can collapse without warning.
Bone crushing weight and suffocation are the likely end for most trench accident victims. Even if someone should still be alive when first responders arrive, the likelihood they will survive until firefighters can safely approach them to affect a rescue is slim.
According to OSHA, there were 12 trench injuries and 23 deaths in 2016. The U.S. Department of Labor has made reducing excavation and trenching hazards a priority. Their goal is to reduce the total from fiscal year 2017 by 10% by September 30, 2019. Trenches by their very nature are inherently unstable. The deeper a trench goes, the more unstable it becomes. The soil the trench is being dug in, the weather, the experience of the crew – it all adds up to what can be a fatal accounting.
OSHA has a section of their website devoted to proper trenching techniques. It’s here.
To help in this effort, we’re happy to share a new trench safety message from U.S. Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta.
Feel free to use these two radio Public Service Announcements as you like, in an email, on your web site – whatever.
One is in English, the other in Spanish.
And as all first responders know, call 811 before you dig to get underground infrastructure located. It’s fast, it’s free and it’s the law.
Until next time, safe digging!