Utility Contractor

MAY-JUN 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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May/June 2018 | Utility Contractor 47 easy to use, easy to transport, adaptable to different trench depths and widths, and budget friendly. There are systems for almost every situation, and if you don't need to purchase a system you can rent one. If you need help, contact the manu- facturer or rental company and they will help you find what you need. Statistics show that workers are killed more often on job- sites where there is no competent person (CP), which is an OSHA requirement for all trench jobs. The competent person must have the necessary training about the OSHA Excavation Standard – Subpart P and how to identify and control hazardous conditions. NUCA's competent person training program provides this information and a lot more. However, the competent person needs the right equipment to provide a safe place to work and must have the authority to take immediate corrective action to make the job safe. Otherwise, OSHA will not consider him or her competent. Failure to take corrective action when a hazard exists can re- sult in severe OSHA penalties – as much as $123K per will- ful violation. More importantly, when a hazardous situation exists, like an unprotected trench, workers are in danger and could be buried alive. Don't just train the competent person(s), train workers too. Many NUCA members are not only sending their competent persons to NUCA's Excavation Safety and Competent Person training, they are sending all their workers. Why? Because they are supposed to provide trench safety training for work- ers too and they realize the benefits of workers knowing what the competent person knows. Sure, the average laborer or pipe layer may not need as much training as the CP but em- ployers know that if a worker completes a NUCA course, he or she will walk away with a solid understanding of what OSHA requires employers to do and the CP's responsibility, in addition to the potential hazards and how to protect them- selves and their co-workers. Bottom line, everyone is reading from the same page. From June 18-23, NUCA will be holding its third annual Trench Safety Stand Down. During this week we are asking all contractors and employers who have any involvement with digging trenches or excavations to hold a TSSD. During the stand-down we are asking employers to remind and educate their workers about the dangers of entering an unprotected trench. We are also asking NUCA members and their chap- ters to reach out to their friends, subcontractors, municipali- ties, other contractors who dig, and other associations asking them to hold a TSSD. Our goal is to educate workers and to save some lives. OSHA has informed me that they will be updating and re- emphasizing their high emphasis program for excavations this year, which means they will continue to show up at any trench or excavation job site at any time without a warrant. If OSHA shows up at your jobsite and sees an unprotected trench, there will be no excuses and very possibly willful citations. Even more important, there is no reason workers should have to put their lives on the line by entering an unprotected trench. Let's continue to take the lead and protect workers. Promote trench safety, pass the word to those who think that providing a protective system is not necessary or too expen- sive to protect the lives of workers. Let's continue to live up to our slogan: We Dig America Safely. For more information on NUCA's Trench Safety Stand Down got to www.nuca.com/tssd George Kennedy is NUCA's vice president of safety. By George Kennedy The No. 1 rule of excavation safety is to use a trench protective system: sloping, shoring or shield (trench box).

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