Stand down focuses on keeping workers safe in trenches

By Michael Marr, BWC Safety Technical Resources Consultant

In February, a 34-year-old worker died when a trench he was working in collapsed in Licking County. Just last month, a trench collapse killed two workers in Starkville, Mississippi.

Unfortunately, these tragic incidents are reminders of the potential dangers of trenching and excavation work. However, most trenching injuries and fatalities are preventable with proper training and safety equipment.

The 2020 Trench Safety Stand Down, scheduled for June 15-19 and sponsored by the National Utility Contractors Association, gives employers an opportunity to talk directly to their workforce and others about trenching and excavation hazards and to reinforce the importance of protecting workers from them.

The Trench Safety Stand Down encourages employers to take a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity to draw attention to the specific hazards related to working in and around trenches and excavations.

At BWC, we support the stand down and we are strongly committed to preventing trenching accidents, which are often deadly. Earlier this year, we launched the Trench Safety Ohio campaign with accompanying website, TrenchSafetyOhio.com, to increase awareness of the hazards of working in trenches and promoting safe trenching work practices.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we realize it may be a challenge to conduct in-person events, but you can still share resources like our trench safety card (in English and Spanish) with your workers. You also can find additional items and information on our Trench safety resources page.

Additionally, the BWC Learning Center has a recorded webinar – Trenching Overview: A Focus Four Initiative – you and your employees can view for free. Simply log in to the BWC Learning Center, search for Trenching Overview, click the link, and enroll. Employers who have not yet established a BWC Learning Center login can view instructions here.

Whether it’s watching a webinar, sharing videos or information online, or having a smaller event, following proper physical distancing protocols, we hope you’ll take part in the 2020 Trench Safety Stand Down.

Additional resources
OSHA Trenching and Excavation webpage
NIOSH Trenching and Excavation webpage
CPWR Trench Safety webpage

Our “safety things we did this summer” report

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Kids will soon be going back to school and writing essays about the things they did this summer. It’s a fun way for them to recap some of the highlights of those long summer days before jumping into the grind of the new school year. We thought we’d do the same in this post!

We’ll start with the past few weeks and our time at the Ohio State Fair. For the second year in a row, we had a booth in the Bricker Marketplace to highlight safety at work and at home. We got the message out about our Be Safe Ohio campaign to thousands of fairgoers in the booth and with our sponsorship of the iconic Sky Glider. We even handed out bottles of water and Beat the Heat cards to attendees as they were leaving the fair on one of the days.

Fairgoers of all ages were excited to stop by our booth to try their hand at Safety Plinko. Children were especially eager to play for safety prizes, including fans, earplugs and the always popular colorful safety glasses. In less than two weeks, our representatives handed out hundreds of informational pamphlets and thousands of safety giveaways to everyone from preschoolers to grandparents.

Once again, the state fair was a great opportunity for us to reach the public and educate Ohioans on ways to protect themselves on and off the clock.

Safety Day at the Zoo
Earlier this summer, we participated in Safety Day at the Zoo at the Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo. The event – organized by the Greater Cleveland Safety Council – gave us the chance to get our message of safety and wellness out to zoo visitors. It was a picture-perfect day and we got to interact with hundreds of parents and children, giving them tips on staying safe and healthy.

Trench Safety Stand-Down
In late June, we hosted or participated in several trenching safety training events in conjunction with the National Utility Contractors Association’s 2018 Trench Safety Stand-Down. This included training events in Erie County, Toledo, Cincinnati and Summit County.

The Summit County event provided classroom training followed up with a review of the information covered in the class while conducting digging of a trench and installing a trench box.

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls
We kicked off the summer with training opportunities during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in May. Our fall prevention training included events at:

  • Our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington.
  • At Boak & Sons in the Youngstown area.
  • Our Garfield Heights Customer Service Office.

Events like these are critical for stemming the tide of falls in the workplace. Nearly 30 percent of all claims filed with BWC are from fall injuries, and falls in Ohio result in an average of 14 fatalities a year.

Thanks to everyone who attended our trainings or who stopped by to see us at various stops this summer. We got a lot out of these interactions and we hope you did too!