The 2022 Trench Safety Stand Down is June 20-24

The National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) is again sponsoring an annual Trench Safety Stand Down,  which will be held June 20-24, 2022

What is a Safety Stand Down

A Trench Safety Stand Down (TSSD) presents the opportunity for employers to talk directly to employees and others about safety. These Stand Downs will focus on trench and excavation hazards and reinforce the importance of using trench protective systems and protecting workers from trenching hazards.

How to Conduct a Trench Safety Stand-Down

Companies will conduct a Trench Safety Stand Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity to draw attention to the specific hazards related to working in and around trenches and excavations. We ask that companies provide feedback about their Stand Down, such as when it was held, how many workers participated, and how you shared information with employees. NUCA will collect the information, publicize the overall total number of participants, and publish the names of the companies that held a TSSD. You can find all the appropriate documentation in the TSSD Forms section at

Recognition of Participation

  • NUCA will provide a Certificate of Participation, which will be e-mailed to all participating companies, and helmet stickers will be mailed to the address provided on the forms.
  • NUCA will publish the list of names of participating organizations on the NUCA website and in our printed publications.
  • Submit TSSD Completion Forms online, and any questions you may have to

Stand Down Goals

The goal is to reach out to the many workers who work in and around trenches and excavations to provide them with information about current excavation requirements and safety procedures for working in trenches. By reaching as many workers as possible we can reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries that occur each year in our industry, and make others, such as municipal and industry workers who are also exposed, aware of these serious hazards.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent trenching and excavation hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand Down. NUCA encourages utility construction, residential, highway construction, plumbers, military, unions, associations, educational institutes and safety equipment manufacturers to participate.

All the information for your TSSD can be found at

Monthly Toolbox Talk

Trench Safety 

Working in a trench is one of the most hazardous jobs in construction. Hundreds of people die and thousands are seriously injured each year due to cave-ins. Soil weighs between 90 and 140 pound per cubic foot. Therefore, one cubic yard (3x3x3 feet) can weigh as much as a small pickup truck.

If a person is buried there is little chance of survival. There are many things that can affect soil stability, such as the type of soil, water and vibration. Soils saturated with water and previously disturbed soils are very dangerous to work in or around. But don’t be fooled, even hard soil and rock that appears stable can cave-in. 

Before entering a trench, the competent person at the jobsite must inspect the trench and the protection system to ensure that the trench is safe to enter. There are recorded incidents of people buried and killed in trenches 3-4 feet deep, so even shallow trenches must be inspected by a competent person before entering.

Trench Safety Tips

  • Locate all underground utilities before digging
  • Enter only trenches that have been sloped at the proper angle, shored, or shielded.
  • Never go outside the area that has been sloped, shored or shielded, not even for a moment.
  • Eliminate or control water accumulation before entering the trench.
  • Stay alert when working in or near previously disturbed soil conditions.
  • Do not permit vehicles near the edge of the trench.
  • Check regularly for hazardous materials and oxygen levels in the trench.
  • Never allow machines to run unattended.
  • Use a ladder or ramp to get in and out of the trench. Place the ladder inside the protective system.
  • Never climb on shoring or shields. 
  • Never ride in equipment buckets or on crane hooks.
  • Wear hard hats when working in or around trenches.
  • Stay out from under raised loads. 
  • About half of the people killed each year in trenches die trying to rescue someone else who has been buried by a cave-in. Call 911 for help. Do not attempt a rescue unless you have been properly trained in trench rescue. 
  • Remember, if you are buried by a cave-in your chance of survival is very low. Therefore, always be sure that the trench walls are sloped, shored, or shielded with a trench box and that the trench is safe before you enter.
blog featured image