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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Incident Investigation—Trench Collapse

Lessons from a workplace accident.

A trench wall collapsed on an irrigation installer who was repairing a pipeline.

The injuries:

The employee was completed buried and died of asphyxiation.

The causes:

  • • 
    Trench only about 1m wide excavated to a depth of 3m with vertical walls.
  • • 
    No trench shielding, shoring or benching.
  • • 
    Lack of forward planning.
  • • 
    Failure to follow company policy
  • • 
    Failure to follow approved CoP.
  • • 
    Failure to adequately supervise work.
  • • 
    Lack of training.

The lessons:

  • • 
    Trench collapses are a known hazard with previous deaths reported.
  • • 
    Entering any excavation must be considered dangerous.
  • • 
    Industry practices for safe working in excavations over 1.5 metres in depth must be followed.
  • • 
    The means to provide safe access and egress into trenches are well documented in an approved CoP.
  • • 
    Documenting hazards and their controls is not sufficient in itself.
  • • 
    Employers and principals must ensure correct and adequate controls are built into task planning and actively achieved to prevent harm.

Thomson Reuters

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