Can Trench Cave-In Deaths Be Cut—

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 9, Pg. 82-86

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: About 100 construction workers die each year in trench cave-ins. That toll can be cut, two engineer-researchers conclude. Approach would be to make more-adequate geotechnical analysis of soils to be trenched, followed by engineer design, where indicated, of shoring or veeing of the trench walls. Controlling trench safety today is the OSHA code; it is inadequate, authors say, because it is not rationally based. They say present contracting procedures are also at fault — they leave it up to the contractor whether or not to provide shoring and type of shoring. But the contractor has a profit incentive, which sometimes may lead to a shore-or-not decision that is unsafe. The authors sought views of liability insurance industry and of trenching contractors; both representatives of these groups agree with the thrust of the reforms proposed. The authors call for post-cave-in analysis of trenches. Other suggestions: research is needed to develop better soils-analysis tools; a trench-shoring field manual is needed. A list of suppliers of trench shoring is provided.

Subject Headings: Federal laws | Safety | Trenches | Shoring |

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