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Deadly Trenching Collapses

All phases of construction work come with their own set of hazardous conditions, but trench work and excavation are particularly dangerous. Last fall, one young construction worker in Ohio fell victim to a trench collapse and was buried; he subsequently died as a result of his injuries. The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated the accident and found that the man’s employer did not have the proper safety precautions in place. The employer was cited for the violations, but unfortunately these sanctions come too late for the young man who lost his life as a result of the cave-in.

Unmet OSHA Standards

OSHA works hard to ensure the nation’s workplaces are kept safe and, as a part of this goal, there are safety requirements that employers must adhere to. Employers have the obligation to provide a safe working environment for all employees and when accidents happen, they are required to provide workers’ compensation to their injured employee. In the case of the collapsed trench accident, OSHA found various violations of safety standards; most importantly, the requirement that all trenches more than five feet deep need to have protection against cave-ins. The Ohio employer did not have this protection in place; if it had been, it may have made a difference between life and death. Other safety standards that were not being met included a lack of employee training about trench hazards, a lack of access or egress means within a specified distance of the trenching area, and a lack of competently conducted worksite inspections.

Specific Standards For Trenching And Excavating

According to this OSHA Trenching and Excavation Safety Fact Sheet, two workers are killed each month in trench collapses, and these types of accidents are more likely to cause worker deaths than any other accidents associated with excavation work. With trenching work, there are specific types of protective systems that are required – and in the case of the Ohio accident discussed above, were allegedly not in place:

  • Benching: this excavation procedure involves cutting a series of horizontal steps into the ground on either side of the trench; this is not an acceptable system if the ground is of a certain type of soil;
  • Shoring: this type of protective system requires the placement of metal or other supports that hold the trench wall in place to prevent its collapse;
  • Sloping: this system requires the angled cutting of the trench walls away from the trench itself so that the trench cannot collapse inwards;
  • Shielding: similar to the shoring technique, this involves using trench boxes or other types of supports to protect workers from cave-ins.

The Bader Law Firm, LLC Is Here To Help

When workplace accidents happen, the last thing you need is something else to worry about. In times like these, you need to be able to turn to someone you can trust for effective and efficient advice about your rights and responsibilities. The legal professionals at Bader Law Firm, LLC work exclusively with workers’ compensation issues and are ready to help you when you have been hurt on the job. Contact our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers today online to schedule your free, no obligation appointment. Let us help you take control of your situation and fight for the relief you are entitled to receive.

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