Trench Tragedies That Could Have Been Avoided


Our slogan, “keep the trench (and OSHA) off your back” is much more than a catchy way to express how North East Shoring guarantees that our products meet all safety regulations, and is more of an homage to how seriously we take the safety of all the men and women who excavate and spend their days in the trenches. As former excavators ourselves, the owners and sales staff at North East Shoring are passionate about preventing cave-ins and trench collapse. We carry the best shoring equipment available by the industry leaders, Kundel and Atlas. Shielding and shoring is much more than a part of the job — “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s post, we share a few tragedies that were completely preventable, and had proper shoring equipment been used, lives would have been spared.

Two Pipelayers Buried Alive in Trench Collapse

Windsor, Colorado, on a cool April afternoon in 2019 ended tragically as the town’s entire emergency services and a nearby specialty rescue unit spent more than 8 hours attempting to free one of the men who was still alive in the bottom of a 15-foot trench. Christopher Lee Ramirez and Jorge Baez Valadez went to work laying the pipes for a residential new build community and never made it home. The real tragedy in this situation is there were no safety measures in place, and no shoring equipment at that site or any of the dozens of other homes awaiting pipe laying in the neighborhood. The construction company was ordered to pay the families $31,000 in reparations and was removed from the building project, but at what cost? Two widows and their 5 children watched helplessly as rescuers used shovels to retrieve their loved ones from their tombs.

Unsecured Pipe Trench Kills Construction Worker

Taylorsville, North Carolina, just a few weeks ago (May 20, 2021), Shane Sharpe, a construction worker was trapped when the 10-foot pipe trench he was working in collapsed. While his co-workers, in combination with emergency personnel and on-site equipment, successfully dug him out fairly quickly, he was dead on the scene from injuries sustained. In this case, no trench braces or boxes were used, despite recent heavy rainfall. While OSHA is still investigating this event, we can’t report an outcome other than the Sharpe family is freshly grieving the loss of their loved one and the

“The leading cause of the collapses for 2020 – and in previous years – has been inadequate cave-in protection, as provided by shoring, sloping, or shielding (trench boxes). Of the 12 deadly collapses in 2020 that have so far resulted in violations, eight were cited for inadequate cave-in protection.”

The ugly truth is that each year, nationwide, approximately 25 trench workers die in the trenches — with 2020 closing out with 21 construction workers killed in trench collapses. Nearly 75% of those deaths are caused by cave-ins or collapsing sidewalls. We share these stories as reminders that trenching is a dangerous job and shoring equipment (and OSHA regulations) are designed to save lives. At North East Shoring, we believe that a single death of a trench worker is one too many. The lives of every New Englander are important. Let us help keep the trench (and OSHA) off your back — rent or buy shoring equipment from us today!