Construction workers accidents: OSHA emphasizes trench safety


Federal safety authorities, along with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health remind construction company owners and their workers that trenches can be early graves because a cave-in can be deadly. Trench collapses are traumatic experiences, and those who are fortunate enough to survive could suffer severe physical and emotional damages. Hopefully, the National Trench Safety Stand Down will encourage compliance with safety standards, which might prevent tragic construction workers accidents.

During the stand down between June 17 and June 21, safety authorities will remind workers and employers that safe excavations are those that are monitored by competent persons and appropriately supported. The walls of trenches with specific depths must be sloped, benched or shored, or be fitted with trench boxes. Workers must have ladders or other ways to access and egress the excavations. The edges around excavation openings are to be kept clear of spoils, tools, equipment and vehicles.

Safe methods must be used to pass materials, equipment and tools to workers inside trenches, such as using ropes to lower such objects instead of dropping it to them. Barricades and warning signs are required to prevent accidental pedestrian falls or vehicles driving into unnoticed trenches. Workers must wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including respirators if atmospheric hazards are present, and locations of utilities must be marked to avoid accidental strikes.

Although these are only some of the safety precautions, compliance will help to prevent trench-related construction workers accidents. Workers who were injured in such an accident can have their medical expenses and lost wages covered by the California workers’ compensation insurance system. Although the administrative and legal proceedings of the benefits claims process are often complicated, an experienced attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout ensuing proceedings.

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