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ASSE Chapter Recognized for Trench Safety

Wed October 25, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Board of Directors recently voted to recognize the ASSE Georgia Chapter for its efforts to increase trenching safety for workers through its active support of the Atlanta “Trench Safety Task Force.”

The task force works to reduce incidents and fatalities associated with trenching work. ASSE Georgia Chapter Past President Pamela Fisher was recognized for her role on the task force in upholding the high standards of the safety profession and the Society’s Code of Professional Conduct.

The ASSE Georgia Chapter; Georgia Institute of Technology — Safety, Health and Environmental Technology Division; and the regional U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) teamed up to educate the public about trenching accidents in a group known as the “Trench Safety Task Force.”

The task force provides trench safety best practices material and resource information to construction contractors and other employers involved in trenching excavation operations and brings together all interested parties to generate innovative solutions to reduce safety hazards at work sites. The task force’s primary function is to educate people about trenching and excavation safety.

A trench refers to a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 ft.; essentially, a trench is a confined space. An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth, a heavy homogenous material.

Trench work involves many possible hazards. For example, in trenching and excavation work, cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other hazards associated with trenches include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres and incidents involving mobile equipment.

According to OSHA, trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries conducted by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health stated that from 1992 to 2001, excavation and trenching fatalities amounted to an average of 54 fatalities per year.

“The ASSE Board of Directors recognized Pamela’s efforts in going above and beyond by acting to prevent injuries rather than reacting,” said Ronald Ross, ASSE Region IV vice president — which includes the Georgia Chapter — and member of the ASSE Board of Directors.

Fisher, ASSE Georgia Chapter past-president and vice president, partner and operations manager of PROSAFE Solutions Inc., is an experienced safety and risk management professional with a proven track record of success in managing and overseeing safety programs for large construction projects. Her educational background is in occupational health with a degree in nursing and training in the field of safety and has worked in the safety profession for more than 20 years.

In addition, Fisher assisted with OSHA’s re-design process through consulting and design team training. Fisher also serves as faculty member of Georgia Tech’s OSHA Training Institute and was the recipient of the prestigious ASSE Safety Professional of the Year award in 2005.

For more information on the task force, visit

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