MS-DAMAGE-PREVENTION-CLASS-2 High-quality, effective training can saves lives. Make sure your job-site workers get safety training regularly.

Effective Safety Training Helps Prevent Fatalities

The case studies below provide real-life examples of why high-quality, effective safety training is so important. Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued statements regarding citations to five companies where training might have helped save a worker’s life.

5 Incidents . . . 5 Deaths . . . All Preventable

1. In a January incident, a worker died from injuries sustained when a trench collapsed at a job site in Nebraska. OSHA proposed fines of $157,000 against the plumbing company. The company was cited for failing to train workers about trenching hazards and four other safety violations.

“This tragedy might have been prevented with the use of protective shoring that the company planned to bring to the job site that afternoon,” OSHA’s Area Director in Omaha, said. “All too often, compromising on safety procedures has tragic consequences, and hazards like these cause numerous deaths and injuries every year. No job should cost a worker’s life because an employer failed to properly protect and train them.”

2. OSHA proposed $325,710 in fines and cited a waste-treatment facility for 22 safety and health violations as a result of a December fire and explosion at the Cincinnati waste treatment facility. One worker died from his burns. The violations include failure to provide new training:

  • to employees assigned to handle waste materials,
  • to workers on the proper selection and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for protection from various materials that are part of their routine assignments, and
  • to employees assigned to work on energized circuits.

3. Penalties totaling $116,200 were proposed against a lumber company in Texas involving a December incident in which a worker was killed after being struck by a broken band saw blade. The 17 alleged safety violations include failure to provide easily understood lockout/tagout training for energy control and to certify that energy control training was completed and current.

4. OSHA cited a trucking company in North Dakota for failing to train workers on chemical hazards and precautions after a worker was fatally injured in March while cleaning the inside of a crude oil tanker that exploded.

5. OSHA also cited tool manufacturer for 17 safety violations, including lack of training, after a maintenance worker was electrocuted in March Missouri.

Learn for These Failures. Keep Your People Trained.

Learn from the failures of these companies to protect their employees, and make needed changes in your own safety training programs to ensure such tragedies don’t happen in your workplace.

We thank the Safety Daily Advisor web site for this information.

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A Brief Introduction to . . .
Trench Shields

by David V. Dow on May 30, 2014

Steel trench boxes will protect workers in case of a cave-in, and can save money by eliminating sloping or benching. Steel trench shields will protect workers from severe injury or even death that can result from a wall collapse. They can also save money by eliminating the increased cost of sloping or benching.


OSHA defines a “trench shield” as a structure that is able to withstand the forces imposed on it by a cave-in or trench collapse, and thereby protect employees inside it. Trench shields are typically built from either steel or aluminum. Regardless of the material, the principles are the same.

When to Use Which?

Steel shields are typically used when there track-type excavators working on a production job. Aluminum shields are typically used with rubber-tired backhoes in (typically) point-type repairs, or for laying relatively short runs of pipe.


Trench shields come in a variety of heights and lengths. Steel trench shields are most commonly 8 feet high, and can be 12 feet, 16 feet, or 20 feet long. Common sizes for aluminum trench shields are 6 feet high x 8 feet long, and 8 feet high x 10 or 12 feet long.

Spreaders — These are the cross members that join the two sidewalls together, and they, too, come in a variety of sizes. Common spreader lengths for steel shields include 24″, 30″, 36″, 48″, 60″, 72″. It’s not uncommon to see steel shields with 12–13 foot spreaders in some large excavations.

Aluminum shields are frequently available with adjustable spreaders. Common ranges for adjustable spreaders for aluminum shields are 18″ to 26″, 23″ to 34″, and 28″ to 44”. Adjustable spreaders are helpful because the width of the shield can be more easily adjusted to the specifics of each excavation. And in those cases where more protected working space is needed, it is simply a matter of expanding the spreaders. Likewise, if the trench is in a tight or narrow space, the spreaders are simply shortened. Fixed-length spreaders are also available for aluminum shields.

Aluminum or Steel?

The biggest advantage of aluminum shields is their relative light weight. A typical 8 foot high x 10 foot long aluminum shield, with spreaders, might weigh 1,200 pounds. A similar-sized steel trench shield, with spreaders, might weight 6,500 pounds, more than five times as much.

The disadvantage of aluminum shields is the relatively soft aluminum material, which won’t stand up to as much use and abuse. Also, at comparable sizes and depth ratings, aluminum shields are more expensive than the steel versions.

In our next installment — in a couple of weeks — we’ll look at how you go about determining the proper size for the trench shields you need on your job site.

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“A Fearful Respect for the Real Dangers . . .”

May 15, 2014

Why are we running this series? Why are we are running this series of articles on various ways you can protect your crew members who work in excavations? One very important reason is to demonstrate that when you apply proper, sensible, and effective safety practices and use appropriate safety equipment, excavation work can be done [...]

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