Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California (CTCNC)
The Joint Labor-Management Sponsor of School-to-Work • Pre-Apprenticeship • Apprenticeship • Health & Safety • Journeylevel Advancement • Leadership & Supervision • Certification and Qualification Programs
At the start of the construction season, let's review trench safety
By Dave Kirby, Senior Instructor/Curriulum Developer Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California (CTCNC)
Most construction sites include a variety of excavations and trenches, including deep footings, basements or trenches for electrical or plumbing. Often, we need to enter a trench to do some work, but before we do, we need to ask, "Could I be in danger?" And often, the answer is, "You bet!!"
If you enter a trench or excavation that is not shored, sloped/benched or fitted with a trench box, and there is not a way to escape if it collapses, and there is not a "competent person" then the answer is YES. An unprotected trench is an early grave. Dirt is really heavy; in fact, one cubic yard of dirt is equal to the weight of a mid-sized car. The weight of the soil is so heavy that it will crush you, even if your head and arms are above the dirt. OSHA states that two workers are killed each month in trench collapses.
It's Up to YOU and the CREW!! … to Check-Out Trench Safety Factors
So, how can you be protected from a cave-in? Following are several industry "best practice" solutions:
Un-shored trenches need to be sloped or stepped for stability like the one below.
or … a Trench Box made of heavy-duty side walls and stabilized by horizontal beams/shores like the one to the right.
In addition, a competent person appointed by the employer must inspect the trench daily and when conditions change. If there is a problem, the competent person can stop work and get it fixed before work resumes.
All soil and equipment shall be kept at least 2 feet back from the edge of the trench. When a trench is 4 feet or deeper, a safe exit (ladder, ramp) must be within 25 feet of the worker.
Trench walls can look stable, but DON'T TRUST them. It only takes a second for a collapse to occur, so before you go in:
Find the competent person
Work only in protected areas
Check your escape route
Trenches can be dangerous, but by following the safety rules above, you can work safely in and around trenches.
It is essential to have competent, carefully trained Carpenters in general safety compliance issues. Go to our web site – ctcnc.org, click Journeylevel classes, or contact your Local Union and ask to be placed on the list for our many safety training course. Your Carpenters Training Committee will schedule a class in your area based on your requests.
And, until next time remember... "A Journeylevel Class or Two Provides Safety for Others and You!"
A big thanks to long-time CTCNC Executive Director! John Bullock retires >
Craft Quiz: General Training
1. Which of the following is a way to protect you in a trench?
c. Trench box
d. All of the above
2. A cubic yard of dirt weighs:
a. As much as a large truck
b. As much a two cubic yards of concrete
c. As much as a mid-sized car
d. As much as a super burrito off the break truck
3. When shall a safe exit be provided?
a. When the trench is 4' deep or more
b. When the trench is 6' deep or more
c. When OSHA comes around
d. When a worker is going to be in the trench for an hour or more
4. All excavated soil and materials shall be kept at least 8 inches from the edge of the trench.
5. A competent person can stop work and fix a problem.
Answers: 1/d 2/c 3/a 4/b 5/a
Journeylevel upgrade and health & safety classes are scheduled or in progress,
please visit www.ctcnc.org to view the training schedule.