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APRIL 17, 2007
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NASHVILLE With the Spring and Summer weather upon us more trenching and excavation construction projects are happening across the state. Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley is renewing his special emphasis on safety on these types of work projects. Since 2004, The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) has issued 240 violations involving trenching and excavations, totaling more than $1 million in penalties. Also three workers have lost their lives since then, due to safety violations.

“Our Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Division would like to see a decrease in trenching and excavation fatalities and violations,” said Commissioner Neeley. “When accidents happen in trenching they are usually fatal, and this type of accident can easily be prevented.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development’s Occupational Safety and Health division offers the following safety tips to employers and workers:

Trenching and Excavation Safety Tips

Where a trench that is to be occupied by a worker is five feet deep or greater:

  • The sides of a trench or excavation must be protected from “cave-in” by one of the following: sloping (at the appropriate angle for the soil type); shoring (normally with metal and hydraulic approved equipment); or inserting a trench box in a trench.
  • Excavated dirt must not be within two feet of the trench or excavation.
  • A “competent person” must be present. This person must know the requirements of the trenching and excavation standards and have the authority to stop and/or make necessary changes in the operation to make it safe.

Under a special emphasis program on trenching and excavation established in 1997 all TOSHA compliance and consultative services personnel are instructed to be on the lookout for trenching or excavation work sites. Trenching and excavation work creates extremely dangerous hazards to workers.

Personal observation, reports of imminent danger, safety and health agency referrals, employee complaints and media reports are utilized to locate trenching and excavation work.

For more information on trenching and excavation hazards call the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health division of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development at 1-800-249-8510.

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