Trench collapse can happen in the blink of an eye and it always has devastating results. 1 cubic yard of soil can weigh in at almost 3000 pounds which can crush and asphyxiate anyone it buries. These are common on construction sites that need to access underground structures and to install electrical wiring.
Some workers who risk injury and death due to trench work include:
- Elevator workers
- Demolition workers
- Site supervisors
- Heavy machinery operators
Common injuries in trench accidents
In the industry, those who work as trench workers have suffered from debilitating injuries that compromised their ability to work. These include:
- Asphyxiation from being buried alive
- Spinal cord injuries
- Vision loss
- Serious burns
- Nerve damage
- Knee and pelvic issues
- Internal bleeding
- Head trauma
When it comes to safety standards regarding trenches, everyone on a job site needs to be responsible. Contractors who are found to neglect this issue face hefty fines, jail time and homicide charges if their workers lose their lives due to such preventable accidents. In 2016, a foreman was convicted of this charge as well as reckless endangerment when a 22 year old worker on his team died in a 7 feet deep, unprotected trench as it caved-in on him.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year was the worst in terms of trench deaths and most of them were due to negligence. Besides contractors, businesses can also face huge fines if inspections reveal that they are negligent when it comes to protecting site workers.
For example, an Ohio based business was fined more than $2 million in fines when one of its workers was crushed to death in an unsecured trench. The OSHA inspection uncovered that the company did not emphasize the use of barricades to prevent material from falling into the trench and also didn’t train workers to recognize common hazards that could have saved their lives.
According to OSHA, more than 30 workers are killed in trench accidents each year and the incidents are increasing yearly now. This alarming rise in deaths can be curbed if the following safety measures are put in place:
- Ensure that excavated material or spoils is at least 2 feet away from the edges of the trench.
- Ensure that a competent member of the team inspects each trench after rain or other hazardous disasters.
- Implement protective measures (like sloping, shoring etc) and provide shields for trenches that are between 5 and 20 feet deep. A professional engineer should be hired to design a stable system.
- Ensure that all workers are trained to recognize signs of a weak trench before it collapses so that trench workers can be evacuated in time. Common signs include cracks, bulges etc.
- Ensure that there is a safe exit within 25 feet for workers.
OSHA 30 Hour Construction Training from 360training
The OSHA 30 Hour Construction Training course from 360training is designed to be a comprehensive training program for site workers in construction. The program is ideal for safety supervisors, foremen, site supervisors and others who are involved in the industry.
The training program gives an extensive overview of OSHA compliance issues for workers who are covered by OSHA 29 CFR 1926. All workers should also receive additional training as per standards regarding specific hazards of particular jobs. Please be advised that the 30 hour course is not the same as OSHA 510 and 511 courses.
The main objectives of the course include:
- The role of different types of PPE or personal protective equipment as per OSHA standards
- Fire protection requirements in the workplace
- Understanding the role of OSHA when it comes to maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
- How to implement protective measures that can prevent workplace accidents
- Determining types of rigging equipment that is used to protect workers from harm
- Determining the hazards that are imminent around work sites such as trenches.
- Identifying safety and health hazards of cutting and welding in the construction business
And much more. Sign up for the course today.