Tom Coble Assembles Team in NC to Address Trench Safety

Wed January 07, 2004 - Southeast Edition

In 1999, after selling his equipment rental business, Tom Coble, a 20-year construction industry veteran, began paying attention to stories about trench excavation cave-in accidents.

Cave-ins most often occur when improper or no support is used to “shore up” the walls of a deep ditch or trench. Weighing more than 100 lbs. per square foot, the dirt often collapses under its own weight, leaving workers in the trench with little chance of survival.

In many cases, the trenches are more than 10 ft. (3 m) deep and can range in width from a few feet to several yards. When an accident occurs, the workers often are buried alive.

“I knew I could assemble a team that could address this serious need in the construction industry,” Coble said.

Since December 2002, Coble has opened several underground safety equipment rental outfits under the name Coble Trench Safety. Headquartered in Burlington, NC, Coble Trench Safety has branches in Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro. The company services municipalities, general contractors and state contract holders with equipment rentals, sales, service and training. He plans to expand this service throughout the Southeast.

“We’re in the business of preventing accidents,” said Coble. “Our OSHA-compliant training classes help our customers through teaching them about working safely underground.”

Underground safety precautions are required by OSHA for job sites that include underground activities such as laying pipe, pulling cable and sewer work. Work sites that do not have the proper safety precautions are subject to sizeable fines and job delays.

“Our training programs keep job foremen and trench entrants up to speed on regulations and technologies related to their jobs,” said Brett Sondergard, vice president of operations and certified trench safety instructor. “We offer the classes in Spanish, too, which is a must in today’s marketplace.”

“We want to do our part to keep the economy moving forward and our customers safe,” Coble said. “For us that means providing the underground equipment and training necessary to prevent cave-in accidents on construction projects.”

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