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Trench Cave-in Deaths Are Preventable With Shoring and Sloping Solutions

ARCHOver the past six years, 184 construction workers in the United States were killed because of failure to properly shore or slope an open trench or a pit.

According to OSHA, most accidents occurred in pits and trenches that are five to 10 feet deep.

When soil starts to slip and slide there is no escaping it. A cave-in or dirt slide occurs in less than a second. Workers are instantly buried.

If a worker is trapped at the bottom of a six-foot trench and buried under three feet of soil, 6,000 pounds of pressure are covering him.

Sadly, co-workers sometimes leap into pits to try to rescue the victims. Up to 65 percent of trench and open-pit deaths on construction sites are would-be rescuers. The unstable earthen walls take more lives.

Even if a worker survives a cave-in accident, he is likely to suffer from serious internal injuries and psychological trauma.

Systematic and safe rescues, which involve heavy equipment to widen the area around the pit or trench, shoring, and the use of equipment and shovels to cautiously remove soil, commonly take four to 10 hours.

Companies that have open trenches and pits on their job sites are required to provide:

  • Cave-in protection for employees working in a trench
  • A safe means to enter an exit the trench, such as ladders
  • Protective hard hats for employees inside trenches
  • Training for workers to identify and avoid hazardous working conditions

Companies that fail to provide these safety solutions face fines and citations. Often times, the fines are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While penalties affect the companies that fail to keep workers safe, they do not bring back the people who have died from trench collapses and cave-ins.

Trench shoring and sloping are the only safe and acceptable solutions to prevent accidents on job sites involving trenches and open pits.

Neff Rental’s branches in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland provide trench-shoring solutions for customers. Our experienced trench shoring specialists recommend shoring systems, and also work with professional engineers to design and certify complex shoring solutions. For more information, visit, or call 888-709-NEFF to find a nearby branch. With Neff Rental’s trench shoring solutions, we help protect your workers and enable them to return home at the end of each workday.