OSHA Partners to Protect Trench Workers
Thirty-nine American workers died in trench collapses in 2022 according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
That’s nearly double the annual average of such deaths between 2011-2021.
Now, OSHA is partnering with trade organizations, labor unions, and industry stakeholders to better protect workers.
“Sadly in 2022, we saw a dramatic and disturbing increase in the number of workers who died in trench collapses,” said OSHA assistant secretary Doug Parker.
The agency announced a two-year agreement with the Partners for Safe Trenching and Excavation Operations Alliance in an effort to make some of the construction industry’s most hazardous work safer.
The agreement unites the North American Excavation Shoring Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the National Utility Contractors Association, the Associated General Contractors, the Common Ground Alliance, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
Officials said the alliance will help small- and medium-sized employers protect workers from hazards related to trenching, excavation and shoring.
“Joining with the Partners for Safe Trenching and Excavation Operations Alliance is an important collaboration to help ensure that industry employers are taking the precautions required to keep every worker who enters or works near a trench safe,” Parker said.
Officials said the initiative will focus on the four leading construction industry hazards, falls, caught-in or caught-between, struck-by objects, and electrocution.
Also, alliance participants will share information on how to improve controls and equipment to reduce worker exposures to hazardous levels of noise and silica.
OSHA said it will partner with the alliance and its members to develop guidance in multiple languages along with resources including safety articles and alerts, worksite tours, educational sessions, and focused discussions on common hazards in trenching and excavation work and agency priorities and initiatives.
Also, podcasts and webinars will be offered focused on best practices in trenching and excavation.
The alliance is encouraging industry stakeholders to incorporate equity and worker voice into its outreach and activities to connect as many workers as possible with important safety and health information.
“We know that awareness and vigilance saves lives,” Parker said.
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