OSHA announced that it has updated the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities. The NEP will increase education and enforcement efforts.
“Removing workers from and helping workers identify trenching hazards is critical,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA will concentrate the full force of enforcement and compliance assistance resources to help ensure that employers are addressing these serious hazards.”
The program began on October 1, 2018 with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach. During this period, OSHA will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations, and fatalities. OSHA-approved State Plans are expected to have enforcement procedures that are at least as effective as those in this NEP.
OSHA has a number of compliance assistance materials to help, including:
- Audio public service announcements recorded by U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta 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,” which 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.