Protect Workers From Deadly Trench Collapses

14 jobsite deaths in 2023 could have been prevented
with trench shoring and shielding equipment

June is Trench Safety Month and a critically important opportunity to increase awareness about the dangers and deaths that occur annually as a result of trench and excavation collapses. According to the CDC, 14 workers died on the job in 2023 due to trench collapses. This follows a particularly deadly year in 2022 with 39 worker deaths, and 15 deaths in 2021 – all due to collapses where the trench was unprotected or shoring was improperly installed.

Considering that one cubic yard of dirt weighs approximately 3,000 lbs. – about the same as a compact car or small pickup – it’s no surprise that survival rates are very low for workers trapped in trench collapses. Soil’s stability is deceiving – and it’s impossible to tell just from looking at the soil whether it’s prone to collapse – because several factors affect stability, including whether the soil has been disturbed, the type of soil, and its moisture content.

The only way to protect workers from death or injury as the result of a trench collapse is to never allow them to enter an unprotected trench or excavation in the first place. While OSHA regulations require trench protection in excavations that are five feet or deeper, deaths have been recorded from collapses in depths as little as three feet. Trench protection can only occur when excavations are properly sloped, shielded, or shored with a trench box or trench-shoring equipment. Examples of different types of trench protective equipment available for rent from Carter Rental include:

  • Aluminum and steel trench boxes and shields
  • Hydraulic vertical shoring
  • Build-A-Box aluminum shield systems
  • Slide rail aluminum shoring systems
  • Steel manhole boxes
  • Stone and bedding boxes

Injuries and deaths in trenches don’t just result from soil collapses, however. Also consider these additional trench safety tips:

  • Keep materials and heavy equipment a minimum of two feet away from trench edges.
  • Never allow laborers to work under suspended loads.
  • Test the trench regularly for low oxygen and hazardous fumes or gases.

To get started with a trench shoring equipment rental in Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., request a quote today or locate a Carter Rental – The Cat® Rental Store representative in your area.