NUCA and Partners Kick Off Trench Safety Stand Down Week

Industry-wide trench and excavation safety education events start this week

NUCA and Partners Kick Off Trench Safety Stand Down Week

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For the past seven years in June, NUCA has held the innovative Trench Safety Stand Down week for the utility construction industry. This year’s event, sponsored by NUCA national partners United Rentals and Sunstate Equipment Co., will occur at hundreds of job sites across the nation, reaching tens of thousands of our member’s valuable employees.

“NUCA’s Trench Safety Stand Down is an integral part of our industry’s comprehensive safety program,” says NUCA CEO Doug Carlson. “With the full support of OSHA, our mission to reduce injuries and fatalities in the trenches through the training of our excavation workforce has seen a remarkable reach across the industry over the last several years.”

NUCA and industry professionals, in both member and non-member organizations, organized the series of TSSD week events to emphasize the message of safety around job site trenches and excavations. Companies can conduct a stand down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or hold another safety activity to draw attention to the specific hazards related to working in and around trenches and excavations.

The event was first held in 2016 by NUCA, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration joining as a partner a year later.

Industry safety professionals use TSSA week to hold safety training, educational seminars, live demonstrations of trench rescues and other activities to reinforce the important message of trench safety. Employers are encouraged to review with their employees the hazards associated with these tasks, the regulations enacted to keep them safe underground, and best practices to help keep themselves and their co-workers safe on the job site.

In 2022, more than 22,500 industry employees and first responders at over 1,900 job sites, from 345 organizations, took part in the stand down. The industry’s employees learned the importance of being safe around excavations and trenches from peers and experts alike. 

NUCA and the utility construction industry members seek out every measure possible to reduce risks on job sites, which we all know can be a dangerous place to work if someone is unaware of its hazards. Some of the hazards include sudden cave-in or collapses, which are among the most dangerous hazards in the industry. Recent national statistics on trench injuries and deaths show an increase in fatalities, with OSHA reporting 39 trench collapse deaths in 2022, up from 15 fatalities in 2021. These accidents can be avoided with thorough training in excavation safety procedures and techniques, and the use of safety equipment such as trench boxes and supports.

Participation in TSSD has become more important in recent years, as the industry begins gearing up for more water, wastewater, broadband, electric and highway projects financed by the federal 2021 infrastructure law supported by NUCA. The industry is seeking tens of thousands of new employees to work on these projects — and every one of them will need safety training.

June 2023 is also "Trench Safety Month." NUCA is devoting the entire month of June to getting the message out to the public and non-NUCA industry companies about the importance of employee safety when working underground or in and around trenches.

NUCA is also partnering this June with the Trenching Excavation Safety Taskforce to share information about staying safe in and around excavations. The partnership, announced in April, will be promoting awareness of trench safety, the many training programs offered to industry members and to help ensure employees stay safe while building our nation’s vital core infrastructure projects.

The social media hashtag for the event is #TSSD23.


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