Digging a deep Trench-Don’t forget the Shoring System


I am sure University of Washington Professor Kamran M. Nemati would label this a temporary structure of the earth restraining type. It is placed in a trench which houses a city water main with the primary function of preventing a suffocating, life ending, cave in.

The picture you see below is a protective system seen in many trenching and excavation construction operations. It is designed to hold back the earth and prevent collapse. Despite the numerous OSHA enforced safety standards, hazards including falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment take the lives of many construction workers annually.  Trench collapses are responsible for more fatalities than any of the items in the list.  A young man, home for summer break from college, was buried alive in trench apparently because of trench cave-in caused by heavy equipment near edge of trench. His death was an agonizing one as his coworkers could hear his muffled screams for help, but had no way of digging him out prior to him asphyxiating on soil.

In some cases the worker will move outside the protection of the shoring system which are like the  temporary walls with bracing you see in the picture below. This is what happened in the 11 foot deep trench that interred Michael Casey Holland of Portland, Oregon. RIP

The pic below shows 5-6 foot deep trench along Union Avenue in Roswell,NM. That plywood does not look strong enough to stop a cave-in to me.



2 comments on “Digging a deep Trench-Don’t forget the Shoring SystemAdd yours →

  1. My son did not move outside of the shoring. He was within the shoring, but it was incorrectly shored at 15 feet apart instead of the legal 8 feet apart. They were often asked to do things that were unsafe and violated many OSHA safety guidelines, which led to my son’s death. I still suffer the loss of him and will for the rest of my life. I pray other companies will take extra precaution to protect their employee’s and ensure they have received safety training also. The fault of his death be on the company, but the pain of it on me and my family for eternity. A word of wisdom to young men and women working in the field. If a company takes short cuts to save money, say NO to the job offer or walk away. It’s not worth leaving your family in devastation and cutting your young life short.

    1. Michelle,

      May you and yours have as many peaceful days as possible aftering enduring the agonizing loss of a special young man. It sounds as though you have/had a legitimate lawsuit against your late son’s employer based on unmistakable negligence and OSHA safety violations.

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