Caught Between a Rock And A Hard Place
Deliberately jumping into a 7-foot trench isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. But for workers used to the field, it can be an oversight on safety protocol that can cost them more than a day’s pay.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 alone there were 23 excavation and trench-related fatalities reported, double the average of the previous five years combined. This figure included incidents caused by a lack of benching or shoring walls present in the trench itself.
Two factors stand out as to why this surge has occurred. One is the lack of skilled workers available. And the second is the rise of hiring unskilled workers to replace them.
A Retiring Generation
More than 40 percent of construction workers are “baby boomers”. They are the generation of people born between the years 1946 and 1964. Moreover, they are hitting the retirement age on a grand scale.
Along with them are the workers who’ve quit over the years. Especially during the Recession due to a lack of industrial work. This has collectively shrunk the population of skilled experienced workers. And it’s only getting smaller as the years pass.
However, now the construction industry has a second boom in projects. With skilled labor almost out the door, builders are hiring more unskilled workers to replace the retirees and the workers who left.
Fresh Faces with No Trench Training
Jobsite managers that skirt around checking for site safety certifications put everyone at risk. Along with the use of fake OSHA and training cards from the workers themselves.
This leads to more accidents due to the lack of site safety training, and enforcement of said training’s policies and procedures that comply with OSHA standards.
The Importance of Safety
Workers are required to have completed training to conduct trench work. In turn, employers are responsible for workers when they go in the trench as well. Instead of being a statistic, you should make sure that you, your workers, and your employers receive the proper training when working in confined spaces to avoid tragic accidents such as the reports.
For more information on benching, OSHA standards on trenching and excavation, and your rights/responsibilities, please visit our curriculum for our 8 Hour Confined Space Entry/Attendant/Supervisor Training.
Again, the last place you want to be is between a rock and a hard place.