OSHA data shows 23 construction workers were killed in trench collapses in 2016, exceeding the combined total from 2014 and 2015. In Kentucky, three trench-collapse deaths occurred from June 2015 to December 2017, Kentucky FACE reports.
Calling the rise in fatalities “alarming,” the alert lists several tips for construction workers who perform trench work:
Have a competent person inspect trenches before each shift and after every rainstorm or other hazard-increasing occurrence.
Institute protective measures such as benching, shoring, sloping and shielding for all trenches between 5 feet and 20 feet deep. For trenches 20 feet and deeper, require a registered professional engineer to design these systems.
Keep excavated soil, also known as spoils, and other materials at least 2 feet from trench edges.
Train employees on how to spot signs of imminent trench collapse, including tension cracks, bulging and toppling.
Provide a safe method to exit trenches within 25 feet of workers.
The alert points out that 1 cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car.