OSHA Determines that Trenching and Excavating Worksites Continue to Warrant Increased Enforcement
Due to the continuing incidence of trench/excavation collapses and accompanying loss of life, OSHA has determined that trenching and excavating worksites continue to warrant an increased enforcement presence nationally.
OSHA has long maintained that employees exposed to potential cave-ins must be protected before the excavation face is in imminent danger of collapse, because OSHA believes that there is a potential for a collapse in virtually all excavations.
Trenching and excavation work exposes workers to extremely dangerous hazards. According to data, there were 130 fatalities recorded in trenching and excavation operations between 2011 and 2016. The private construction industry accounted for 80%, or 104, of those fatalities. An alarming 49% of those construction fatalities occurred between 2015 and 2016.
OSHA believes that the rate of deaths and serious injuries resulting from trenching and excavation incidents (mostly collapses) can be significantly reduced if OSHA concentrates resources to effectively engage trenching and excavation operations through both enforcement and compliance assistance activities.
Compliance Safety and Health Officers shall initiate inspections under this program whenever they observe an open trench or an open excavation, regardless of whether or not a violation is readily observed.
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