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Trench Safety Stand Down 2024 - Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)


Every June the Trench Safety Stand Down takes place, highlighting awareness and safety protocols for trenching and excavation activities. This initiative, launched by the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) in 2016 and later joined by OSHA, is dedicated to promoting safety measures within the construction sector.

Trench safety encompasses the set of procedures and measures enacted to safeguard workers engaged in trench-related activities such as the digging and maintenance of excavations. Trenches, commonly employed for construction, utility installation, or upkeep tasks, present substantial risks if not appropriately handled. Working in an unprotected trench poses a significant danger as the walls can collapse suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving workers little time to react. Despite the seemingly small volume, just one square yard of soil can weigh over 3,000 pounds, equivalent to the weight of a compact car. This amount of soil is sufficient to cause fatal injuries by crushing or suffocating workers.

Tragically, injuries and fatalities resulting from trench collapses remain a persistent threat. Between 2003 and 2017, there were a total of 373 deaths related to trenching incidents, with over 80% occurring within the construction industry. Trench fatalities are preventable with proper safety measures in place.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages employees working in excavations deeper than 5 feet (not in rock) to follow the three S's of trench safety: slope it, shore it, and shield it. These protective systems are used when soil conditions and the depth of the trench pose a hazard to workers.

  • Sloping: Cutting the trench wall at an angle that inclines away from the excavation
  • Shoring: Installing supports to prevent cave-ins and soil movement
  • Shielding: Using trench boxes to protect workers in case of a collapse
  • Benching: Excavating the trench walls to form steps

Did you Know?

2024 Trench Safety Stand Down is from June 17 - 23, 2024

OSHA Northeast Trench & Excavation Safety Stand Down Kick-off Webinar
Wednesday, June 5

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