New alliance aims to cut down on trench collapse deaths

By Neil Gerrard19 July 2023

HDPE pipes in an unsupported trench ahead of installation HDPE pipes in an unsupported trench ahead of installation (Image: Ramil Gibadullin via AdobeStock -

A new alliance aims to help small- and medium-sized construction businesses in the United States of America (USA) to protect employees from trenching, excavation and shoring hazards.

The two-year agreement sees the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) join a partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) National Trenching and Excavation Alliance.

The training initiative focuses on the four leading construction industry hazards: falls, caught-in or caught-between, struck-by-objects, and electrocution. Information will also be shared on how to reduce employee exposure to hazardous levels of noise and silica.

NUCA, OSHA, and the other alliance members will partner to develop guidance in several languages to deploy training resources such as safety articles and alerts, jobsite tours, educational sessions, and focused programs on trenching and excavation hazards.

Partners will also create podcasts and webinars focused on best practices. NUCA’s long-standing safety and training programs will also complement the initiative’s efforts focused on the utility construction industry.

The two-year agreement signed is between OSHA and the Partners for Safe Trenching and Excavation Operations Alliance.

The agreement unites NUCA, the North American Excavation Shoring Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Associated General Contractors, the Common Ground Alliance, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Laborers’ International Union of North America to address some of the construction industry’s most hazardous work.

Mike Flowers, NUCA director of safety, training, and education, said, “NUCA’s partnership with the OSHA National Trenching and Excavation Alliance is just another example of how NUCA is making safety a priority in the industry.

“Whether it’s providing training opportunities, educational resources or taking leadership positions on industry safety committees and task forces, NUCA is always striving to help make the industry safer for the front line, in the trenches, for all of our member’s employees.”

US Department of Labour assistant secretary for occupational safety and health Doug Parker added, “Sadly in 2022, we saw a dramatic and disturbing increase in the number of workers who died in trench collapses. We know that awareness and vigilance save lives.”

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