OSHA Announces Agency Goal to Reduce Trenching and Excavation Hazards

OSHA’s Agency Priority Goal for 2018 aims to reduce trenching and excavation hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, excavation and trench-related fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous five years. OSHA’s goal is to increase awareness of trenching hazards in construction, educate employers and workers on safe cave-in prevention solutions, and decrease the number of trench collapses.

OSHA plans to issue public service announcements, support the National Utility Contractors Association’s 2018 Trench Safety Stand Down, update online resources on trench safety, and work with other industry associations and public utility companies to create an effective public-private effort to save lives. OSHA’s trenching and excavation national emphasis program is also currently under revision. For more information on trench safety, visit OSHA’s safety and health topics page.

This trench box saved an employee’s life when the dirt walls around him collapsed. Photo credit: Underground Safety Equipment/NAXSA

OSHA Will Enforce Beryllium Standard Starting in May

WASHINGTON, DC – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced today that it will start enforcement of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general, construction, and shipyard industries on May 11, 2018. This timeframe will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors. The start of enforcement had previously been set for March 12, 2018.

In January 2017, OSHA issued new comprehensive health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries. In response to feedback from stakeholders, the agency is considering technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will clarify and simplify compliance with requirements. OSHA will also begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit (STEL) for construction and shipyard industries.  In the interim, if an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL, OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.