As you may be aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a Press Release on enhanced enforcement initiatives it is launching in response to an alarming rise in trench-related fatalities. In 2022’s first six months, 22 workers have fallen victim to the deadly hazards present in trenching and excavation work – surpassing 15 in all of 2021.
In keeping with its National Emphasis Program for excavations, OSHA compliance officers will perform more than 1,000 trench inspections nationwide where they may stop by, and inspect, any excavation site during their daily duties. To stress the dangers of disregarding federal workplace safety requirements for trenching and excavation work, OSHA enforcement staff will consider every available tool at the agency’s disposal. These actions will place additional emphasis on how agency officials evaluate penalties for trenching and excavation related incidents, including criminal referrals for federal or state prosecution to hold employers and others accountable when their actions or inactions kill workers or put their lives at risk.
For more information on OSHA’s enhances enforcement initiative related to trenching and excavation, please refer to the Press Release. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including an alert, poster, compliance directive, quick card, and safety video. OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program, a free and confidential health and safety consulting program for small- and medium-sized businesses, will assist employers in developing strategic approaches for addressing trench-related illnesses and injuries in workplaces.