This past October, OSHA re-affirmed its commitment to reducing the number of injuries and fatalities due to unprotected trenches and excavations by renewing the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Trenching and Excavations. This emphasis program covers all states, including state OSHA programs, and requires that Compliance Officers initiate inspections under this NEP whenever they observe an open trench or an open excavation, regardless of whether a violation is readily observed. This program also allows the Compliance Officer to expand the inspection to include the entire jobsite if other violations are observed.
The OSHA regulations regarding trench and excavation safety are very specific.
- They require that a competent person, who is qualified to recognize hazards and has the authority to take quick action to eliminate the hazard, inspect the trench for hazards and determine the specific type of protective system to be put in place.
- Correcting the hazard can include stopping the work, if necessary.
- The competent person must have specific training in, and be knowledgeable about, soil analysis, the use of protective systems, and the requirements of OSHA’s Excavation standard.
Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) has been conducting Trench Safety workshops for its members for 25 years. Contact IAMU’s Safety Services department if you need this training. If you have questions regarding trench safety, contact Margret Meade firstname.lastname@example.org or 515.210.6617.