Prevent Fatalities: Training in Trenching and Excavations

Our hearts go out to the families of the two people who lost their lives Friday in a trench collapse on Dartmouth St. in Boston’s South End. Atlantic Drain Service Co., employed the two construction workers who were trapped in a trench when a water line ruptured filling the excavation and the street. The workers were unable to escape the trench, and despite the best efforts of the workers and first responders on the scene, the rescue effort quickly turned into a recovery effort.

The trench box pictured in a few articles about the accident was placed as part of the recovery effort. Trench boxes are used to support trench walls and prevent trench collapses. Had trench boxes been placed before work started as well as ladders within 25 feet of each worker, this could have helped protect the workers while they were working in the trench and escape once it began filling with water. However, there is not enough information available at this point to know if these or other safety measures would have prevented the fatalities.

It has not been made clear why the water line ruptured. OSHA and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the accident and will hopefully uncover some more details. Atlantic Drain Service Co. has had six serious and two repeat OSHA violations just this year. Additionally, they have eleven other violations ranging from serious to willful from years past, and are in collections for the penalties. All of this information can be found on

Since 2012 Atlantic Drain Service has incurred $122,160 in OSHA penalties (that’s with a reduction). If they had decided to put a quarter of that money into safety training and health and safety plan development, they might have prevented the deaths of their two workers.

Excavation training for the competent person covers how to identify soil types, requirements/selection of protective systems, identifying existing and potential excavation hazards, completing an excavation checklist, understanding the OSHA standard, and what to do in case of a cave-in emergency.

If you would like to schedule trenching and excavating safety training, we have a range of courses available, from awareness level to competent person. In addition to trenching and excavation safety classes we offer confined space rescue and many other classes vital to worker safety. An investment in safety is an investment in your people.