Monday, March 24, 2008

Hattiesburg Trench Collapse

OSHA Standard: 1926.652(a)(1)

The above noted OSHA Standard states that “Each employee in an excavation shall be protected from cave-ins by an adequate protective system …”

All too often we hear via media outlets, Newspapers, Radio and TV, that another person, or more than one person, has perished as the result of an excavation collapse. Failure to provide adequate protective systems for excavation work is the number one cause of OSHA citations in recent years.

There again is the fact that contractors are not taking the extra few cents to provide proper protection instead of the high dollar cost of worker fatalities in performing excavation work. Each contractor should have a Competent Person who is experienced in soil classification, ways to slope or step excavations over 4 feet in depth.

The workers in the Hattiesburg incident, according to media sources, were in an approximately 8 foot deep trench. Workers should be advised that they have the authority to refuse to enter an excavation unless the excavation is adequately prepared with adequate collapse protection.

I don’t know, off hand, what the ranking for excavation injuries and fatalities relates to overall types of work, but I know that it has to rate very highly.

Note the typical unsafe trenching protection in the photo below. The worker appears to be working in at least a 6 foot deep trench. Also, it appears the parts of the trench are at a depth lower than that. Another perilous thing is that the excavated materials are stacked more than two feet away from the top of the trench. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to learn dangerous things about an excavation just by observing the area and Horse Sense review of the area, soils, etc.

This photo courtesy of OSHA Training data.

Think – Are the excavation sides secured from collapsing?

Think – Are stockpiles of excavated materials far enough from the sides?

Think – Is the soil in the excavation wet from ground or rain water?

Think – Is this job worth the loss of my life and my income for my family if I refuse to enter this excavation and get fired?

Think – The Horse Sense Way

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