The best way to ensure you are following OSHA’s rules is to hire someone who is competent to run the operation and who has the expertise to keep things in check.
Trenching and shoring in the construction industry are two of the most dangerous operations that exist. That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has so many procedures, rules, and regulations in place to protect those who work on or near trenching sites. The problem is that although operations are guided by OSHA regulations, there is not always someone overseeing the site to make sure that everyone is following protocol.
There are some companies that run outside the confines of being regulated by OSHA, which means that they try to cut corners and receive lower fines for doing so. Even if you aren’t caught, the result is that you can be subject to some severe and stiff penalties and costs in the event that someone gets hurt. That is why it is important for your managers not only to know what OSHA’s rules dictate, but also that they follow them – regardless of whether or not you are closely monitored.
The Importance of the Competent Person
The best way to ensure you are following OSHA rules is to hire someone who is competent to run the operation and who has the expertise necessary to keep everyone and everything in check. They must have the authority to manage not just the site but the many types of personalities that they will likely be dealing with. Because accidents can happen when rules aren’t followed, finding someone skilled enough to be on top of employee issues is important.
A trenching manager should:
- Communicate with the staff regarding the responsibilities and the dangers of working at a trenching site. Communicating effectively means being able to explain why things should be done a certain way and what the potential hazards are if those procedures aren’t followed.
- Be capable of completing a protective system to manage the trenching site efficiently and understand what the proper dimensions, including width and depth, need to be to accommodate for various soil conditions.
- Must be able to multitask, keeping an eye on the overall trenching operation as well as the individual workers to ensure that they are trained properly and following the right protective standards necessary to keep everyone safe.
- Must understand how to both excavate and inspect the areas around the trenching site.
- Must understand how to evaluate and ensure that the concentration of oxygen is sufficient for workers or to evaluate if there are any hazardous gases.
- Must be capable of anticipating any vulnerabilities, and if they are observed – even in cases where it is workers who aren’t skilled enough – be able to remove them to minimize the potential for danger.
Although they are supposed to be regulated by OSHA, there are many trenching operations that are never inspected or even evaluated unless a red flag goes up. That does not mean that it isn’t important for you to ensure that you have the proper safety guidelines in place and a competent person to follow them. That is the only way to ensure that you aren’t left with huge fines or even a wrongful death suit on your hands.