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Safety seminar reminds local contractors of trenching hazards

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 12:19 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - In the months following multiple trench collapses in Rapid City, including one that killed the owner of an excavation company, local contractors received a necessary refresher.

On Wednesday, The Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) held a trench safety seminar to promote safe excavation practices just off of Highway 16 near The Meadows apartments.

Organizers gave a live demonstration showing how most accidents result from people taking hazardous shortcuts, like working in trenches without protective devices.

AGCA Safety Trainer Jim Heaphy says trench collapses are entirely preventable, and one death is one too many.

“We want everybody to go home safely. Three incidents that have happened in the last 10 months in Rapid City. I don’t want to see anymore in the next 10 months,” Heaphy says. “I’m a safety trainer - I would rather work myself out of a job. People need to work safely so they can go home safe and sound to their families at the end of the day.”

Mom & pop companies have been especially prone to collapses in recent months. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) news release from August says the issue has been especially prevalent in Rapid City.

Greg Derynck, program director for South Dakota State University Engineering Extension, says he hopes contractors learn collapses are a matter of when, not if.

“It might happen today, it might happen a month from now, but, eventually, that trench is going to collapse and fill up with material,” Derynck says.

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