I hope everyone has had a great season so far. As the construction season is coming into the winter months, just a few notes on one portion of the inherently dangerous business that Operating Engineers perform each day:


Hazard: Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. 


  • Never enter an unprotected trench.
  • Always use a protective system for trenches 5 feet deep or greater.
  • Employ a registered professional engineer to design a protective system for trenches 20 feet deep or greater.
  • Use of Protective Systems:
    • Sloping 
    • Shoring 
    • Shielding to protect workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins.
  • Always provide a way to exit a trench–such as a ladder, stairway or ramp–no more than 25 feet of lateral travel for employees in the trench.
  • Keep spoils at least two feet back from the edge of a trench.
    • Make sure that trenches are inspected by a competent person prior to entry and after any hazard-increasing event such as a rainstorm, vibrations or excessive surcharge loads.

Additional information:

I would like to thank Business Manager Bill McLaughlin for the opportunity to speak at the Mass Building Trades Helmets to Hardhats Fundraiser Event at the Statehouse this year. It was an honor to attend a great event and it is impressive to see the generous support for military veterans by the Boston building trades and especially IUOE Local 4. Have a safe and busy season!

Co Safety Officer,

Peter Carpenter