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New OSHA alliance targets hazards in trenching and excavation

Photo: Ron Chilton, National Trench Safety and North American Excavation Shoring Association

Washington — OSHA is teaming up with a coalition of trade organizations, industry stakeholders and labor unions in an effort to bolster trenching and excavation safety.

The two-year agreement between OSHA and the Partners for Safe Trenching and Excavation Operations Alliance unites seven organizations “to address some of the construction industry’s most hazardous work”:

  • Associated General Contractors
  • Association of Equipment Manufacturers
  • Common Ground Alliance
  • International Union of Operating Engineers
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America
  • National Utility Contractors Association
  • North American Excavation Shoring Association

OSHA data shows that 39 workers were killed in full/partial trench or excavation cave-ins last year – a sharp spike from the 15 recorded in 2021. That increase spurred the agency to launch enhanced enforcement initiatives last July.

“OSHA will partner with alliance members to develop guidance and other resources,” an agency press release states. “The alliance also will assist small and medium-sized organizations. In addition, the alliance will encourage industry stakeholders to incorporate equity and worker voice into its outreach and activities to help connect as many workers as possible with important worker safety and health information.”

The alliance will develop resources on the recognition and prevention of the construction “Focus Four” hazards: falls, caught-in or caught-between, struck-by objects, and electrocutions. Additionally, it will seek to reduce workers’ hazardous exposures to noise and silica.

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