OSHA and six prominent industry groups formally established an alliance signed on June 22 at the U.S. Bureau of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Alliance, called Partners for Safe Trenching and Excavation Operations, includes a formal Agreement among the organizations to “provide their members/associations and the public with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help them protect workers by reducing and preventing exposure to trenching, excavation, shoring, and other ‘Focus Four’ hazards and addressing equipment related issues, as well as understand the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act).” The Agreement calls for the Alliance to “forge innovative, creative, and effective ways to fill the gap in trench and shoring safety communication and education between industry, government, and small-to medium-sized contractors.”
The signing was preceded by several months of input into a work plan detailing each organization’s role and responsibilities. Specific events and actions, such as NAXSA’s annual Shore Up for Safety Week and multiple upcoming Trench Safety Summits, are included as deliverables in the work plan, along with sharing of information between the Alliance partners and support for specific OSHA activities, communications, and goals.
Gathering around the signing table, partners discussed the challenges the Alliance seeks to address and offered insights from their organizations’ perspectives. Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), cited unambiguous standards and practices as a priority of his organization. Sarah Magruder, President and CEO of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), called for more use of 811 and a change in risk assessment borne by consequences that drive safety practices.
Michael Flowers, NUCA’s Director of Education, Training and Safety, highlighted leadership training that imparts the “what” and the “why” of trench safety to those leading others in the work. Mandy Edens, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, emphasized, among other topics, fostering “the worker voice” – helping workers to feel safe exercising their rights.
NAXSA cited the impassioned commitment of its members to bring fatality and injury from preventable incidents to zero. Also noted were its members’ expertise, training skills and standards, day-to-day work with customers to show them how to use equipment properly, as well as NAXSA’s events, publications, and even outreach to local media, to raise the expectations of everyone who can make a difference.
“NAXSA’s members have both the passion and expertise to set the bar for these fatalities at zero. We are very pleased to move forward with our partners in this Alliance to strengthen the platform for reaching that goal,” said Executive Director, Melanie McKee, after the signing.
NAXSA will incorporate its role in the Alliance as it carries out its upcoming Summits, communications, and other activities set out in the collaborative work plan the group has adopted. McKee will also participate in a national Alliance Program Forum this September to optimize the opportunities presented by the collaboration and the impact they create.
More information on the Alliance is available on its webpage.