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ND Safety Council, OSHA and other groups work for 'trench safety'

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The North Dakota Safety Council, OSHA and other organizations are working to reduce the number of trenching incidents in the state.

The groups signed a memorandum to that effect.

"Any safety expert you talk to would tell you that most trench collapses could have been prevented, if proper safety measures had been put in place," said North Dakota Safety Council executive director Chuck Clairmont.

Clairmont said the groups have one mission in mind.

"Preventing unnecessary injuries and deaths for those working on trenching and excavation," Clairmont said. "Our goal is to get people home to their families safely every night."

In the past four and a half years, the Bismarck OSHA office has issued 77 violations of trench safety. And in the past two years, OSHA has levied $850,000 in fines.

Safety Council trainer Dustin Austin said failing to protect the walls of excavations is a common mistake.

"There are several different ways to protect, but they have to select the right one," Austin said. "If they don't do that, the walls can cave in."

North Dakota averages two trench cave-ins per year.

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