Trenches are some of the most dangerous workspaces for workers. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has national emphasis programs at regular intervals to monitor trench safety and create awareness of the potentially deadly hazards that excavations pose. A significant number of workers’ compensation claims involve trench-related injuries every year. Following an inspection during an emphasis program, a Florida-based company is facing proposed penalties totaling almost $150,000.
The violations were recorded at a work site in a neighboring state at which some of the Florida company’s construction workers were exposed to deadly hazards. An OSHA spokesperson says unprotected trenches expose employees to catastrophic or even fatal injuries. All employees must be trained to recognize excavation hazards and know how to avoid them.
The safety violations identified at the excavation where gas lines had to be installed included the failure to provide employees with safe access and egress methods. Furthermore, the trench was not protected from cave-ins or collapses, and the rule to keep at least a two-foot area around the top of the excavation clear of excavated materials was disregarded. Reportedly, two of the identified hazards were repeat violations, and five were severe violations.
Victims of workplace injuries that were suffered in unprotected trenches may face long-term health problems. Some injured workers in Florida seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can explain their rights. The lawyer can also assist with the process of claiming benefits from the insurance company, and provide legal guidance in the appeals process in the event of a rejected claim.
Source: workerscompensation.com, “US DOL Cites Florida Company and Proposes $148,845 in Penalties for Exposing Employees to Trenching Hazards“, Dec. 19, 2017