Before they fill the first bucket of dirt this construction season, Wagner Construction Inc. will train employees on trenching and excavation hazards, develop detailed site-specific safety plans, and has employed a full-time safety manager to protect workers from deadly excavation hazards.
Wagner Construction committed to changing its safety procedures and training in a comprehensive settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration following three North Dakota job site inspections in 2019 and 2020 that found employees of the company exposed to excavation hazards.
The agreement requires the Minnesota-based excavation company to pay a $380,000 penalty and to provide immediate training on trenching and excavation hazards to job site employees, managers, and supervisors; hire a third-party safety consultant; provide OSHA with the addresses of all of its 2021 job sites to allow inspection for compliance with trenching standards; form a corporate safety committee, and address safety issues during weekly supervisor meetings. The company hired a full-time safety and compliance manager in July 2020 and has agreed to purchase new trench safety equipment this season.
“Excavation and trenching are some of the most hazardous operations in construction. OSHA worked with Wagner to address safety issues found on their North Dakota job sites,” said OSHA Area Director Scott Overson in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Preparing and executing job site safety plans that include sloping, shoring and shielding trenches can prevent cave-ins and worker injuries.”
OSHA is collaborating with the National Utility Contractors Association and the North American Excavation Shoring Association for the sixth annual Trench Safety Stand-Down Week, June 14-18, 2021. The stand-down raises awareness of the dangers of trenching and excavation and promotes the use of protective systems, such as sloping, shoring, and shielding, through webinars, presentations, and individual company safety training.
OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. including a safety video.