The Butler County Engineer’s Office Operations Department prepared for outdoor construction months by holding in-house safety training events in late February and early March. When snow and ice control and culvert headwall construction were winding down, Operations Deputy Scott Bressler facilitated forklift training and an interactive trench box safety training for his force account staff and other Butler County agencies. Bressler brought in Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Area Director Ken Montgomery, Al Heckmann of Heckmann Sales & Leasing, Tom Bills of Tri-State Wire Rope Supply, and Butler County Safety Director Utah Bailey to help establish higher standards for education, protection, and care of employees and valuable equipment.
The trench box safety training included an indoor presentation and an experiential outdoor demonstration of an installation in a deep hole on BCEO grounds. Butler County agency workers heard Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Heckmann share real-world insights on injury and fatality risks from getting trapped or buried in a hole. Additionally, the trainers stressed the importance of accurate calculations for the trench, pipes for support, soil conditions, and materials to lessen those risks. Construction grade materials and equipment are expensive, and operators need to treat them with care. Likewise, factoring in the type, quality, and age of protective gear is of importance in case something flies off of a crane or other machinery. Case in point: During the demonstration of moving the box into the trench and safely accessing it, it was discovered that BCEO’s ladder was not OSHA-approved. Operations Deputy Bressler used the serendipitous opportunity to illustrate that no matter how trivial a ladder might seem, each piece of equipment could be a life-saving component in the dangerous projects construction workers are involved in every day.
“The bare minimum for best practices should be OSHA standards,” said Montgomery. However, the Butler County Engineer’s Office would like to do more than the bare minimum by challenging other counties, townships, and municipalities to join them in stepping up their safety game!