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PCCA Journal|4
Quarter 2011
Safety News
OSHA Publishes New
Materials on Trenching Safety
he Occupational Safety
and Health Administration
(OSHA) in October re-
leased three new guidance
products to educate work-
ers and employers about the hazards
workers face in trenching operations.
Unprotected trenches are among the
deadliest hazards in the construction in-
dustry, and the loss of life is devastating:
since 2003, more than 200 workers have
died in trench cave-ins, and hundreds
more have been seriously injured. 

“No worker’s life should end in a
trench. Cave–ins during excavations are
some of the most common and grisliest
causes of worker fatalities in construc-
tion, yet they are entirely preventable,”
said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Oc-
cupational Safety and Health Dr. David
Michaels. “I am deeply troubled by the
continued violations of OSHA’s trenching
standards, many of which bring tragic
results. These new educational materials
provide clear guidance on the necessary
steps that employers must take to protect
workers in trenches.”
The new information products, which
are available at
lications, include:
Trenching and Excavation Fact Sheet
– an overview of the hazards that
can occur while performing trenching
operations and the safety measures
required to protect workers; 

Working Safely in Trenches QuickCard
– an easy-to-use guide to trenching
hazards and safety measures with
graphics; and

Do Not Enter an Unprotected Trench!
poster – a resource for construction
workplaces informing workers what
steps must be taken to ensure trench
safety, along with the warning “An
Unprotected Trench is an Early Grave.”

Subjects covered in the three docu-
ments include proper shoring and slop-
ing, evaluations by competent persons,
means of access/egress, atmospheric
hazard testing, and protective systems.
The guidance also describes the protec-
tive measures that are required under
OSHA’s excavation standards (29 CFR
1926.650, 29 CFR 1926.651, and 29 CFR
1926.652). Spanish-language versions of
the documents are also available.
Because of the severity of trench-
ing hazards, OSHA conducts a Special
Emphasis Program on Trenching and
Excavations (Directive CPL 02-00-069
[CPL 2.69]), which sets procedures
for enforcement activities wherever
trenching and excavation worksites are
observed. When OSHA’s compliance
officers see a trench, they will inspect a
trench. On two separate occasions in the
past year, this Special Emphasis Pro-
gram allowed OSHA compliance officers
to remove workers from unsupported
trenches minutes before they collapsed—
likely preventing possible injury and loss
of life, the agency said.
DIRT Report Reveals Importance
of Calling 811 Before Digging
he Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the stake-
holder-run organization focused on protecting
underground utility lines and the people who
dig near them, in October announced findings
from its comprehensive 2010 Damage Informa-
tion Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report.
The report, which is the sum of all 2010 data submitted
anonymously and voluntarily by damage prevention stake-
holders, identified the importance of making a free call to 811
to reach a local one-call center as most critical to safety.
When an excavator notifies a one-call center before dig-
ging, damage occurs less than 1 percent of the time, accord-
ing to the report. The report also estimates that total number
of damages could be reduced by 30 percent if all digging was