OSHA Updates Safety Emphasis on Trenching, Excavation

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has updated the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on preventing trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities.

OSHA’s NEP will increase education and enforcement efforts, while its inspectors will record trenching and excavation inspections in a national reporting system, and each area OSHA office will develop outreach programs.

“Removing workers from and helping workers identify trenching hazards is critical,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “OSHA will concentrate the full force of enforcement and compliance assistance resources to help ensure that employers are addressing these serious hazards.”
OSHA’s three-month period of education and prevention outreach will continue to respond to complaints, referrals, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Enforcement activities will begin after the outreach period and remain in effect until canceled. OSHA-approved State Plans are expected to have enforcement procedures that are at least as effective as those in this instruction.

OSHA has developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards, including the trenching and excavation webpage, at osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html (or use the “Find it in OSHA” search tool at the top/right of the osha.org homepage).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Related Articles