Avoid Taking Short Cuts When Digging and Excavating This Summer
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an excavation as “any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface formed by earth removal." A trench is defined as "a narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth of a trench is greater than its width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 feet (4.6 m).”
Both excavation and trenching are high risk for workers, so OSHA has established detailed guidelines to help employers minimize accidents. Because summer brings pressure to complete work while the weather is favorable, it may be tempting to take short-cut the guidelines. Consider the following scenarios:
Avoid shortcuts! Employers are responsible for knowing and communicating OSHA’s guidelines for safe digging, excavating and trenching. This can help keep their employees safe and avoid the many hazards associated with this type of work. The fatality rate for excavation work is 112 percent higher than the rate for general construction, OSHA data shows. Find an overview of OSHA requirements here.