Trenching and Excavation Cave Ins!

Now that Spring is arriving, it’s time to talk about excavation and trenching safety.  One of the biggest hazards on any construction site is the threat of accidents due to cave-ins.  As the ground thaws from a cold Winter, this hazard increases in potential for accidents and fatalities.  The National Institute for Safety and Health reported 350 deaths from excavation and trenching cave-ins from 2000-2009 with these startling statistics:

* 68% of the cave-in deaths occurred in companies of less than 50 employees.

* 46% of the cave-in deaths occurred in companies of 10 or less employees.

All of these accidents and deaths could have been avoided with precautions taken by both the contractors and the workers.  Here are some tips as an employer:

1. Plan any excavation and trench layout thoroughly before undertaking the job.  Safe and unsafe areas should be identified.
2. Have a competent person layout the type of protective system that will be used for the job along with the steps to complete the process.
3. Make sure that all workers that are involved are educated with safety tips and hazards associated with excavation and trenching sites.
4. Make sure a trench emergency action place is in place with steps to be taken and emergence contact information in case accident occurs.

Workers for companies that are involved with excavation and trenching are also responsible for their own well being.  Companies are not all liable for accidents, especially when safe practices are spelled out and the worker engages in an unsafe act on their own accord.  Tips for workers working in excavation and trenching areas:

1. Never enter an unprotected trench.
2. Inspect the protected trench before entering.
3. If their is evidence of a problem, exit the trench and notify contractor and/or competent safety person.
4. Never assume that there will be a warning sign before a cave-in happens.

It may be the companies money that is loss in event of an accident, but it is your life!  Protect yourself and others by being aware of the risks and dangers associated with excavation and trenching.

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