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OSHA Updates Requirements for Excavation, Trenching

December 20, 2018

UNITED STATES – An online article at discusses recent changes in excavation and trenching safety requirements made by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.*

In October 2018, OSHA updated its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation to describe policies and procedures related to excavation and trenching and to “reduce hazards which are causing or likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities during trenching and excavation operations.” The updated NEP creates a requirement for each Area Office/Region in the U.S. to begin outreach programs that address safety issues. 

OSHA has observed that the number of injuries and fatalities related to excavation and trenching has risen in recent years. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 people died from accidents involving excavation and/or trenching. Private construction accounted for about 80 percent of these fatalities, totaling 104. It is OSHA’s position that targeting these particular operations will reduce overall workplace accidents and injuries. 

Historically, the leading causes of death for construction workers are part of what OSHA calls the “Fatal Four.” The Fatal Four includes falls (accounting for 38.7 percent of all construction fatalities), struck by object (accounting for 9.4 percent of all construction fatalities), electrocutions (accounting for 8.3 percent of all construction fatalities), and caught in/between (accounting for 7.3 percent of all construction fatalities). Eliminating the Fatal Four would save more than 600 American workers’ lives every year, OSHA says. 

OSHA announced in November that its offices in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida had already started efforts to comply with the new program by reaching out to affected shareholders to move things along. 

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