Trenching accidents pose the greatest threat to worker safety. Unfortunately, the jobs that require trenching are often incredibly valuable to a city’s infrastructure. Construction workers who work in trenches deserve the best possible protection to keep them safe and ensure they make it home to their loved ones.
Therefore, preventing trenching accidents should be a top priority of lawmakers, city officials, construction companies, and employers.
In This Article:
- What Role Does OSHA Play in Preventing Trenching Accidents?
- OSHA Safety Guidelines to Prevent Trenching Accidents
- How to Prevent Trenching Cave-Ins
- Recent Trenching Accidents in Illinois
- How a Lawyer Can Help Prevent Trenching Accidents
What Role Does OSHA Play in Preventing Trenching Accidents?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a crucial role in preventing trenching accidents and safeguarding the well-being of workers in the construction and excavation industries. OSHA sets and enforces strict regulations and standards to ensure that employers take necessary precautions to protect workers in trenching operations. These standards address critical aspects such as trench depth, proper slope angles, shoring and shielding requirements, and adequate access and egress.
OSHA’s guidelines also emphasize the importance of regular inspections to identify potential hazards and ensure compliance with safety protocols. By conducting thorough inspections and holding employers accountable for maintaining safe work environments, OSHA significantly reduces the risk of trenching accidents and mitigates the potential for fatalities and injuries in these hazardous workplaces.
Outreach and Educational Initiatives
Furthermore, OSHA actively engages in outreach and educational initiatives to raise awareness about trenching safety among employers and workers. Through training programs, workshops, and informational resources, OSHA equips stakeholders with the knowledge and tools needed to identify and mitigate hazards associated with trenching operations.
By fostering a culture of safety and empowering individuals with the information to make informed decisions, OSHA plays a pivotal role in preventing trenching accidents and fostering a safer working environment within the construction and excavation industries. Ultimately, OSHA’s efforts contribute to the reduction of workplace injuries and fatalities, ensuring that workers return home safely at the end of each day.
Important Safety Guidelines to Prevent Trenching Accidents
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, takes trenching safety very seriously and has implemented a national emphasis program specifically focused on trenching and excavations. This program aims to raise awareness and ensure compliance with safety guidelines to prevent trenching accidents, which are among the leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry.
- Protective systems are required in trenches deeper than 5 feet. These systems are vital for preventing cave-ins and safeguarding workers.
- Soil and other materials must be kept at least 2 feet away from the edge of a trench. This measure helps prevent materials from collapsing into the trench and posing a hazard to workers.
- The trench must be inspected by a knowledgeable person. This person can identify potential risks and take necessary precautions before allowing any worker to enter. having a designated person in charge on-site who is well-versed in trenching safety is crucial. This individual should be knowledgeable about the correct safety practices and be vigilant in enforcing them.
- The trench should be free of standing water and any atmospheric hazards that could endanger workers’ health and safety.. The edges of the trench must be kept clear to minimize the risk of accidental slips or falls
- Each trench must have a safe means of entry and exit. In times of crisis, workers must be able to evacuate quickly in case of emergencies. The edges of the trench must be kept clear to minimize the risk of accidental slips or falls
The significance of adhering to these safety guidelines cannot be overstated, as trench collapses can have devastating consequences. In response to the alarming number of trenching accidents, the Illinois Department of Labor has actively emphasized safety in the construction industry, urging everyone involved to undergo proper training and exercise caution on worksites.
How to Prevent Trenching Cave-Ins
Trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose the greatest risk to workers’ lives. Fortunately, several laws and regulations exist to help prevent these accidents. To prevent cave-ins:
SHORE trench walls with supports
SLOPE or bench trench walls
SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes
Recent Trenching Accidents in Illinois
In recent times, Illinois has witnessed a concerning increase in trenching accidents, highlighting the urgent need for stricter safety measures in the construction industry.
One such incident involved Rooter Solutions Inc., a newly established plumbing-related services company operating in DuPage County. Tragically, a worker lost his life in a trench collapse incident that occurred in August 2022. Following an investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for multiple violations of federal trenching and excavation standards.
The violations included three repeat offenses, one serious violation, and one other-than-serious violation, amounting to proposed penalties of $118,962. This incident indicates a lack of compliance with safety regulations and an apparent disregard for the well-being of workers.
In the face of such trenching accidents, OSHA has taken a stern stance to hold companies accountable for their negligence. In the case of A. Lamp Concrete, the agency had previously cited them in both 2018 and 2021 for exposing workers to cave-in hazards, making it evident that some companies repeatedly fail to prioritize safety.
How a Lawyer Can Help Prevent Trenching Accidents
A lawyer can play a crucial role in preventing trenching accidents by advocating for improved safety practices and ensuring that construction companies adhere to OSHA regulations and industry standards. In the unfortunate event of a trenching accident, a lawyer can investigate the incident to identify any potential negligence or violations of safety protocols.
They can represent the interests of injured workers and their families to pursue rightful compensation and hold the responsible parties accountable. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we want to hold the companies that prioritize profits over safety accountable. This, in turn, can act as a deterrent and encourage other companies to take proactive measures to prevent trenching accidents and protect their workers’ rights and well-being.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a trenching accident, contact us today for a FREE case review or call (312) 600-6000.