Trenching Safety: OSHA, Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association Form Alliance to Train Workers

OSHA Area Directors Chris Zortman in Milwaukee, Chad Greenwood in Madison, Robert Bonack in Appleton and Ruth Wright in Eau Claire signed an agreement with Wisconsin Safety and Health Consultation Program Director Ernie Stracener and Underground Contractors Association Executive Director Robert J. Bartel. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor.)


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Wisconsin’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offices signed an agreement with Waukesha-based Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association (WUCA), Inc. and the Wisconsin Safety and Health Consultation Program to spread the word on safety in trenching and excavation.

Members of the alliance will focus on promoting safety for hazards including trenching, struck-by, roadway work zone safety, sharing WUCA’s practices on trenching and excavation safety, collaborating on training programs, developing case studies and establishing illness and injury prevention programs, officials noted OSHA directors from Madison, Milwaukee, Appleton and Eau Claire participated in the association.

Members will also share information on OSHA campaigns to promote workplace safety and facilitate an understanding of workers’ rights and employees’ responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, officials said. The alliance will encourage stakeholders to build relationships with OSHA’s regional and area offices to address health and safety issues, officials added.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries to work in out of all U.S. job sectors because of the number of workers that lose their life in trenching and excavation work, OSHA Milwaukee Area Director Chris Zortman said.

“In 2022, 37 workers lost their life in trenching and excavation work and the industry remains among the most dangerous industries in the nation. This alliance will promote the development of comprehensive safety and health programs for members of the Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association and increase access to training resources,” Zortman said in a statement.

The OSHA Alliance Program enables organizations to voluntarily enter a relationship with the agency to raise awareness of OSHA’s initiatives, outreach, communications, training and education, DOL officials said.

OSHA has additional information on trenching hazards and solutions on its trenching and excavation webpage. To watch an agency safety video, click here.