Ideas and Solutions
for Safer Workplaces
On a cool morning in Colorado Springs, the smell of freshly cut dirt hung in the air.
It was early in my career, and a local
contractor and I were observing a slide
rail and Shore-Trak installation. The
director and I were
discussing the importance of working
safely, education and
Soon after that
discussion, it happened. The excavation wall caved in
against the side of
the aluminum shield
— with an employee
inside. If that shield
hadn’t been in place,
the event would have been catastrophic.
These moments bring home how necessary safety education and training are for
everyone working on excavations.
Excavation safety education and
training is important for all industries,
verticals and markets. Each project and
site poses dangers. Employee awareness
a;ects personal safety and the safety of
Excavation safety is integral to many
PEI companies’ overall safety programs.
“Excavations pose risks to all in-
dustries as they boast a grave danger,
literally,” said Blake Hess, director of
environmental health and safety at The
Oscar W. Larson Co. “Educating and
training exposed employees to the
hazards of excavations is imperative to
their returning home safely. There are too
many variables, such as soil conditions,
air quality and weather, to name a few,
Safety education and training should
be part of every company’s culture.
In 2016, excavation
site fatalities more than
doubled from 2015.
As a response, the
and Health Administra-
tion (OSHA) developed
a program speci;cally
to increase safety in
excavations. As of Oct.
1, 2018, OSHA moved
forward with a National
Emphasis Program that
focuses on high-hazard
industries. OSHA previ-
ously ensured excavation and trenching
are as safe as possible, but now the
agency is boosting education e;orts to
OSHA requires a contractor working
in an excavation or trench to have one
designated “competent person” trained in
trenching and excavation safety.
Excavation Safety Depends
on Education, Training
Trenching Injuries & Deaths
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016(YTD)
Trench-Related Fatalities Trench-Related Reported Injuries