Trenches & Excavations Case Study
|These case studies
are part of tailgate/toolbox talks that were developed for use under
California OSHA regulations. The American Conference of Government
Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has adapted these talks to apply to
federal OSHA regulations.) To contact ACGIH, visit its website (www.acgih.org)
Laborer Dies in
A 27-year-old laborer died after being trapped in soil over his head as
a result of a trench cave-in.
The laborer was digging out the bottom of the trench to expose a drain
pipe. On one side of the trench was a retaining wall. The other side was
a dirt wall which was part of a hillside.
When the collapse occurred, another worker had been pulling up buckets
filled with the spoil, placing it on the hillside above the trench wall
as well as on the other side of the excavation. Eventually the hillside
collapsed, burying the laborer.
The hillside that collapsed was not shored or otherwise protected from
earth movement. The soil in the area had recently been disturbed by an
There was no competent person on site to check the soil and excavation.
No initial hazard assessment had been performed. The laborer had received
no training from the company.
should have been done to prevent this accident?
Cal/OSHA investigated this accident and made the following recommendations.
- Assure that the
sides of all excavations are shored, laid back to a stable slope, or
provided with other equivalent protection where employees may be exposed
to moving ground or cave-ins.
- Have a competent
person frequently inspect excavations in which the soil was previously
disturbed, or where there is loading due to stored materials.
- Train employees,
including periodic refresher training, to be aware of and understand
the hazards of the job.
- Perform an initial
hazard assessment of the job prior to beginning work and whenever there
is a change (storm, earthquake, etc.) that may cause new hazards.
Case Study is based on an actual California incident. For
details, refer to California Dept. of Health Services, Occupational
Health Branch, Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
(FACE) Report #96CA007.
Meetings That Work : Collection
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