Excavating is one of the most hazardous construction operations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports excavation and trench-related fatalities in 2016 as nearly double the average of the previous five years. Trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose the greatest risk to workers’ lives. These deaths are preventable. Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) recently published a new fatality investigation report that examines the contributing factors of a trench collapse that took the life of a 29-year-old construction worker, and makes recommendations to help prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring.
The worker was part of a crew installing a sewer pipe at a residence. He was working in an unprotected area of the trench when the trench collapsed and buried him in 6 feet of dirt. The report discusses key contributing factors identified in the investigation and provides prevention recommendations such as selecting and installing appropriate trench protective systems, necessary steps to be taken by the designated competent person, ensuring workers are trained on recognizing, avoiding, and reporting safety hazards, and developing and maintaining an effective safety culture.
OR-FACE hopes that these reports are used for educational purposes, to help prevent similar incidents from occurring. Download the report, or access it and other reports and resources from the OR-FACE website.