OSHA Forms Alliance to Prevent Trench Deaths in North Dakota

May 9, 2018

Some business groups in North Dakota are working with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to increase awareness of trenching hazards and collaborate on training programs.

The alliance members signed a two-year agreement Thursday at the North Dakota Safety Council’s safety training campus to collaborate on training and awareness programs, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Scott Overson, assistant area director of the Bismarck OSHA office, said the alliance’s “goal is to eliminate trenching hazards and prevent injuries and fatalities.”

Example of improper shoring of a trench. Photo: OSHA

Alliance members include the North Dakota Safety Council, Workforce Safety and Insurance, Associated Builders and Contractors of North Dakota and Associated General Contractors of North Dakota.

“We want to get people home to their families safely every day,” said Chuck Clairmont, executive director of the North Dakota Safety Council.

The industry groups will provide employers and workers with information and training resources to help reduce exposure to excavation-related hazards. Dustin Austin, a safety consultant, said that the North Dakota Safety Council will add a hands-on component to its excavation safety course and will partner with OSHA to do mock inspections.

“This alliance will provide a big benefit to employees out there in the field,” Austin said.

The alliance comes as OSHA is investigating a trench that caved in on two workers who were repairing a sewer line in Mandan. The Mandan Fire Department said the men were covered in dirt, but that they didn’t require medical treatment.

OSHA has also issued citations to excavation contractor Kamphuis Pipeline Co. for exposing employees to trench cave-ins and other serious hazards while installing water metering pits and lines.

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