Digging out of this Trench

Image of footprint in sand

In my last post, I shared a devastating story where a young worker was killed in a trench collapse. In that post, I presented several links to training materials for trenching and excavation. However, what didn't occur to me is how these lessons can be so valuable to anyone at any age.

Growing up, my father was always warning my brother and me about the holes we used to dig in the backyard. Walking around the rather large sandbox area, he would observe our two foot deep hole and warn us that it could cave in on us. My brother and I would roll our eyes, and then fill in the hole. We would always end up losing a Match Box car or two, but thankfully, they were the only casualties. I never realized that the comments made by my seemingly overprotective father would leave a lasting impression in my mind and always leave me cognizant of the dangers associated with trenches.

Fast forward to this morning, when I read in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about two young Cherokee County boys that were digging holes in their backyard and the trench collapsed on them. As I read the article, I could hear my father’s voice warning about trench collapses in my head. While these two boys beat the odds and walked away from the event virtually unharmed, most do not. In a letter written to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, Dr. Bradley A. Maron warned about the hazards associated with the digging of dry-sand holes for recreational purposes. In this letter, Maron cited that of the 52 cases of recreational dry-sand excavation collapses they assembled over a ten-year period, sixty percent of those cases resulted in fatalities. These events occurred either near the shoreline or close to home[1].

While cases of this sort are rare, they remind me that many of the safety and health lessons that we learn at work extend far beyond the jobsite and that we should not forget these lessons when we clock out and go home.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned at work that you were able to apply to recreational life? Please leave your comments below.  

[1]Bradley A. Maron, Tammy S. Haas, & Barry J. Maron. (2007). Sudden Death from Collapsing Sand Holes. The New England Journal of Medicine, 356(25), 2655-6.  Retrieved February 25, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1292410971).