Washington — OSHA has released an updated QuickCard and a public service announcement video intended to raise awareness of trenching safety, after a recent increase in trench-related worker deaths.

According to the agency, 23 construction workers were killed in trench collapses in 2016, surpassing the combined total from 2014 and 2015.

The QuickCard directs workers to avoid entering trenches until:

  • A competent person performs an inspection.
  • Cave-in protection and safe means of entry and exit are established.
  • Equipment and materials are cleared from the edge.
  • Standing water and atmospheric hazards are removed.

    The resource also outlines the “slope it, shore it, shield it” approach to trench protective systems, which must be in place when trenches are 5 feet or deeper – unless the excavation occurs in stable rock. A registered professional engineer must design protective systems for trenches that are at least 20 feet deep.

    In the 49-second video, Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta reiterates the precautions listed on the QuickCard, adding that “these safety tips can save lives, including yours.”