On average, 54 fatalities occur from trenching and excavation work each year. OSHA standards
require, before any worker entry, that employers have a competent person inspect trenches daily and as conditions change to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. When working around excavations here are some safety measures to remember:
2 FEET – SPOIL PILES
Keep excavated soil (spoils) and other materials at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
3 FEET - LADDER
When portable ladders are used for access in and out of the excavation, the ladder side rails shall
extend at least 3 feet (.9 m) above the upper landing surface of the excavation.
4 FEET - ACCESS
OSHA requires employers to provide ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of egress for workers working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. The means of egress must be located so as not to require workers to travel more than 25 feet (7.62 meters) laterally within the trench.
5 FEET – PROTECTIVE SYSTEM
Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system (sloping, benching, shoring, or shielding) unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. If less than 5 feet deep, a competent person may determine that a protective system is not required. A protective system needs to be appropriate for the soil type (as determined by the competent person). It could be stable rock, Type A, Type B, or Type C soil.
6 FEET – FALL PROTECTION
When working, each employee who is constructing a leading edge 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower
levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest
When working in and around excavations, cave-ins are a serious threat to everyone. Remember the safety measures above and if any conditions change, be sure to reinspect the trench. To keep the conversation going, download the Excavation Safety Toolbox Talk (TBT) or comment below.
When it comes to employer Health & Safety Plans, the minimum requirements for an accident prevention program should include inspections of the workplace for potential hazards, training and evaluation of employees for tools and equipment on the job, and personal protective equipment (PPE) training and use practices. While these three components are important, many safety and health managers will agree that there are additional elements that should be included. Here are STAC’s six elements to a proper Health & Safety Plan:
An effective prevention program must start from the top. With C-Suite and managing directors actively participating, tracking, and committing time and resources to your plan, this will leave a lasting impression for all employees involved and help reinforce positive behaviors mirrored in your plan. Studies have shown that management involvement in your program have a direct impact on reducing your DART and TRIR rates.
Once management has helped create and implement the safety plan, it is up to the employees to participate in processes to help identify workplace hazards. Types of employee participation can include:
Hazard Identification & Assessment
With employees actively participating in identifying workplace hazards, an assessment can be made with a Job Hazard Analysis to help identify ways to prevent and control the hazards. An example of a Job Hazard Analysis can be found here: OSHA JHA Sample Form
Hazard Prevention & Control
Once hazards are identified, employers can look to eliminate or control the hazards using OSHA’s Hierarchy of Controls:
Education & Training
Providing employees with the proper education about the workplace hazards and specific training on how to prevent, eliminate, and control these hazards are pivotal to keeping employees safe. Education can include orientation, safety manuals, and SDS sheets for the different chemicals and materials they will be handling. Workplace specific training should be done by a qualified employee and be given to those who operate equipment and machinery for their job.
The final element in the program is to evaluate how well your plan eliminates, prevents, and controls hazards. Different types of evaluations can include:
While Health & Safety Plans can have many different elements, the goal of all plans are to help keep employees safe and reduce the risk of injuries in your workplace. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility. To keep the conversation going, download the Health & Safety Plan Toolbox Talk (TBT) below or click on the QR code to see how STAC can be part of your plan.
With the recent coronavirus pandemic, identifying and screening your employees is more important than ever. For the safety and security of your workforce and workplace, employees should be easily identified. As of the beginning of April, nearly 95% of Americans have been given stay at home orders except for essential businesses. As these essential businesses remain open, it is crucial that each employee be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and that additional protocols are enacted. Some states require letters for those essential employees and identification while in route and at their respective jobs.
One way that companies are keeping this controlled include specialized employee badges with a color-coded sticker for that day of the week. As a badge is something that can be easily produced, replaced and changed, it is something that is also very visible and can be utilized for multiple items. Some items an employee badge can be utilized for include:
An important piece to the ongoing safety of your customers and coworkers includes asking the recommended Coronavirus questionnaire and checking temperatures and symptoms each shift. Once this is completed prior to entry into the workplace, a visual identifier is a great way to let people know this person is assumed safe for the day. Stickers placed on a badge that are changed every shift or every day is an easy, affordable solution in this time of need. If your organization is looking for individuals to perform screening, look towards a local safety or staffing agency. If your company is looking to purchase essential employee badges or purchase a printer contact us today to lead you in the right direction.
Training in the construction industry is a LEADING INDICATOR AND PREVENTION OF INJURY AND DEATH IN THE WORKPLACE. Not only is proper training good practice, it is also one of OHSA’s most common citations. Proper training and the documentation of that training can save thousands of dollars in fees, lost time and insurance claims.
OSHA requires recordkeeping in two areas; Injuries & Illnesses and Safety Training.
Injury & Illness Reporting Requirements
OSHA requires construction employers with 10 and more employees to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses.
What is considered a recordable injury?
What is considered First Aid?
What does OSHA consider a severe injury?
A severe injury includes a fatality, amputation, loss of eye, or hospitalization (formal admission to hospital for treatment). In the case of a fatality, OSHA must be notified within (8) hours of the incident. In the cases of amputation, loss of eye, or hospitalization, OSHA must be notified within (24) hours of the incident.
How do you record these injuries and illnesses?
*A recent update (2/25/2019) now does not require companies with more than 250 employees to electronically submit their OSHA 300/301 forms. They are still required to maintain these records each year and continue posting by location.
Training Reporting Requirements (29 CFR 1910/1926)
It is the employer’s responsibility to initiate and maintain programs for accident prevention.
Training is both task and hazard specific. Below is an example of when training is required:
How often in training required?
OSHA requires that some trainings be repeated after a certain period of time. Below are several of those trainings.
Here is a complete list of Training Standards
When are refresher trainings required?
Refresher trainings are required to reiterate the most important aspects of a training and also to incorporate any changes made pertaining to the specific topic. Refresher trainings should be implemented when one of the following instances occur:
What kind of information should be recorded for training?
Training documentation should include:
The best ways to keep your employees safe in the workplace is to provide them with the proper tools and training to get the job done correctly without putting them in danger. STAC emphasizes this by assisting in recording injuries & illnesses and tracking your employee safety trainings and certifications. By having real-time access to these important records, you can have the peace of mind knowing your employees have been given the proper training that is up to date with current standards.
PART 1904 - RECORDING AND REPORTING OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
PART 1926 - SAFETY AND HEALTH REGULATIONS FOR CONSTRUCTION
Training Requirements in OSHA Standards
Safety is more than just signs and hard hats. Safety programs can help influence work habits, provide a cultural change, and ultimately keep workers safe at work and at home. But where do you begin creating a safety program? With OSHA’s SAFE + Sound week, STAC has helped prepare some simple steps to help you jumpstart your safety program.
Make Safety a Core Value
The best way to begin your safety program is by establishing safety as a company-wide value. Encourage employees to begin thinking and speaking about safety while affirming that you are all in charge of keeping each other safe in the workplace. This value must include all employees from your president down to your first day intern. When everyone begins thinking about safety, a cultural change can occur.
Create a Reporting System
Once you have established safety for your employees you need a way to report issues they find. Create a report or find a form that allows employees to document incidents and injuries, record near misses, or identify potential safety hazards on the job. Be sure to encourage employees when filling out these forms so you can identify ongoing hazards that are seen on a regular basis and find ways to mitigate them in the future.
With STAC, we can help record incidents with the Add Incident feature. This allows you to record on the job injuries and illnesses and download them as an OSHA 301 form for your reports.
In order to promote safety, you must make it a priority from the beginning. Create a new hire orientation that gives insight to the potential dangers seen on a regular basis and how to identify hazards. Review proper PPE requirements and provide them with the gear prior to going to the job. During this orientation be sure to iterate that all employees are responsible for safety and they have the right to speak up if they see a potential safety hazard.
Once the orientation has been implemented, look to add additional trainings for seasoned employees to continue promoting safety and proper working habits.
Create a jobsite inspection outline and review this in the field on a routine basis. Check for hazards and review findings with your employees on-site so they are aware of the dangers and can prevent them in the future.
Inspections can also be created for equipment being used in the field. Train employees to use these inspections before they operate the equipment to make sure the equipment is in good working condition.
Review Safety Regularly
Keep safety in the minds of your employees. Use toolbox talks, safety stand-downs, and job hazard analysis forms on a regular basis to review and identify hazards that are specific to work your employees are conducting. Make these interactive with questions and scenarios to engage your workers and make them think about their tasks and using proper techniques.
Record all training and safety records in an organized manner. Make sure these documents can be easily reached if employees or trainings come into question.
STAC can help provide on-demand access to employee records keeping you organized and compliant. Our automated reports can help you review this information and find employees who have expiring training to make sure their certifications are never behind.
Until there are zero accidents across all jobsites, continue improving your program to make it the best it can be. Collect feedback from your employees when implementing changes to know what works best. Set goals for your organization and strive to make the changes happen. Continue to encourage safe habits both on the job and at home. When safety is part of the company culture, everyone benefits from the rewards.
After over 10 months on deployment, it has become time to prepare to return home. Instead of counting the days during the deployment, I would count the holidays (it really help make time go quicker). First it was Halloween, then Thanksgiving, next Christmas and New Year’s, Saint Patty’s day, Memorial Day, and now finally 4th of July. It’s crazy to look back at it now how long I’ve been here and how little time that I ‘ve got left.
The unit that is replacing us has also arrived. We will spend the next couple of weeks getting them ready to assume control of all the vehicles and equipment. It almost doesn’t seem real that it’s going to be over soon. Heck, there was a point we thought we’d get extended because of Iran. But, as of now it seems clear sailing to home.
Trenching & Excavation Safety Information:
According to the Bureau of Labor during a 7 year stretch between 2011-2017 153 people were killed in a trench or excavation accident. That's on average 21 people per year in that time period. That's 153 families that have lost a loved one that they will never see again.
The first alarming trend, is that trenching and excavation fatalities have been on an upward trend after hitting an all time low of 13 back in 2014.
The second alarming trend is the size of company that a majority of these fatalities are from companies with fewer than 50 workers. 68% of those fatalities occurred in companies with fewer than 50 workers. 46% of the deaths occurred in small companies with 10 or fewer workers.
Training employees in trenching and excavation safety hazards, protective systems, and role of the competent person is crucial in prevention further fatalities and injuries.
What is the different between a Trench and an Excavation?
OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).
Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Access and Egress
OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of all workers.
Do not enter an unprotected trench! Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be designed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/or approved by a registered professional engineer. Ensure that spoil piles are at least 2 feet away from the edge of the trench or excavation.
There are different types of protective systems:
Inspections & Competent Person
OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily or at the start of each shift and as conditions change (such as after a rainstorm) by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. You can die from it. Your body has used up all its water and salt and cannot cool itself. Your temperature rises to dangerous levels.
Here’s how to avoid heat stress in the first place:
OSHA Standard: 1926.300 – Subpart I – Tools – Hand & Power
Training: Training should be performed upon initial assignment/before use of tool.
Frequency: When roles, conditions, or equipment changes. Or when worker is using the equipment in an unsafe manner.
1. Always place the load well forward, balanced and confined in size for safety. The load should clear safely through openings, aisles and roadways. The user should be able to see over and around the load to guide it safely. The load should be secured, or held steady, against shifting or falling.
2. When picking up a wheelbarrow, spare your back by giving your legs their fair share of the lifting. Bend the legs for lifting instead of bending the back. Spare your back and the wheelbarrow by never overloading.
3. Always push a loaded wheelbarrow forward. This is the way to avoid being run over. Warn others out of the way. A walking pace is safer than running.
4. Cross over obstacles at the right angle, especially over rails or planks which may divert the wheel causing the load to spill or fall.
5. The wheelbarrow wheel or wheels should be inspected and maintained regularly. Maintain proper lubrication according to directions. Inspect tires for damage. Keep tires inflated according to directions. Keep all bolts and fittings tight and secure.
6. Wheelbarrow handles are for your hands. Replace handles which are split or splintered. Use handle guards to protect your knuckles from scrapes, cuts and fractures.
7. A wheelbarrow by itself will not harm you or anyone else. You are responsible for how well a wheelbarrow is handled, operated, maintained and stored for safety.
The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) recently released their 2019 Safety Performance Report boasting a drastic reduction in the number of OSHA recordable incidents for companies involved in their ABC STEP program. The average company involved in this program showed nearly a 200% safer Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) than the industry average while companies recognized as a Diamond participant showed a nearly 680% safer TRIR. What attributed to such a drastic shift for companies involved in the STEP program? ABC says a commitment from leadership, a shift in company culture from the beginning and acting on eight core leading indicators are the leading factors.
High Scoring companies in the STEP Program with engagement from c-suite management showed over a 60% decrease in the TRIR and DART (Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred) rate compared to those with no engagement from upper management. The same type of reduction (over 50%) was shown when companies committed to a safety culture, including an in-depth new hire orientation that introduced the company’s values, expectations and procedures. The eight core leading indicators contributing to the rate reductions included toolbox talks, substance abuse programs, performance reviews, action on indicators, safety meetings, PPE requirements, safety pre-planning and goal setting. Each one of these indicators being implemented into the company culture showed decreases between 50%-60% of the company’s TRIR and DART rates. If these steps being implemented can have such a huge impact on company safety records, why isn’t everyone doing it?
The simplest answer is time and money. Many companies are either unwilling or unable to provide these types of changes to their company culture. The 2018 Training Survey conducted by Safety+Health showed that 70% of companies spent less than $500 per individual on safety training. Of all companies surveyed nearly 1 in 4 spend less than $5,000 for safety training for their entire company. When asked of the five hardest challenges regarding safety training, two of the top answers were “Finding Time to Train Workers” and “Lack of Support From Leadership”. While many of these companies struggle with changing the culture from the top down, almost all agree that safety training should be conducted to help reduce injuries and illnesses. It may be difficult to change a company’s culture overnight but implementing change to a safety-oriented culture must start somewhere. With three people being fatally injured during every workday, the construction industry must strive for the goal of zero accidents.
While STAC may not be able to change the mindset from the c-suite management, we can help change some of the core leading indicators to impact safety performance. Whether it’s helping collect toolbox talks, storing substance abuse programs, or tracking indicators and incidents for review, STAC is dedicated to providing service with the peace of mind and affordability for companies of varying sizes. We provide real time access to information helping those already pressed for time focus on keeping their people safe while changing the culture in which they work. Committing to compliance could change lives, while committing to safety within your culture will save them.