SIOUX FALLS, SD – To combat the dangers workers face in trenching operations, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the South Dakota State University Engineering Extension Program and the South Dakota One Call Notification Board signed an alliance on Feb. 19, 2021, to train workers on excavation hazards.
The two-year alliance will focus on educating employees and employers about cave-ins, struck-by heavy equipment, falling loads and vehicular traffic in close proximity to the excavation operations. The alliance will also raise awareness of workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
“Trench collapses pose the greatest risk to workers performing excavation operations, but employers can prevent collapses by sloping, shoring and shielding trench walls,” said OSHA’s Area Director Sheila Stanley in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “This alliance’s efforts to provide training and access to resources will improve workplace safety in this industry.”
An implementation team, comprised of representatives of each organization, will meet to develop a plan of action, determine working procedures and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants. In addition, they will meet up to twice annually to track and share information on activities and results in achieving the goals of the alliance and promote available training by each organization.
The South Dakota One Call Notification Board has scheduled its South Dakota 811’s Annual Spring Damage Prevention Meetings to assist the excavation community and operators of underground facilities in reducing damages while improving worker safety and protecting the general public. OSHA will also be presenting during the online forums. Visit SD811.com for more information and to register.
To raise awareness of OSHA safety standards, the agency has partnered with the National Utility Contractors Association and will participate in Trench Safety Stand-Down Week, June 14-18, 2021, to educate employers and workers. NUCA is requesting all contractors, municipalities, military and others involved with trenching operations to participate in a stand-down event. Visit OSHA’s Trenching and Excavation page for information on protecting workers in trenches.
OSHA’s Alliance Program works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. These groups include unions, consulates, trade or professional organizations, businesses, faith- and community-based organizations, and educational institutions. OSHA and the groups work together to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, share information with workers and employers, and educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.