OSHA promotes trench safety awareness

Workplace safety numbers from fiscal year 2016 show that trench- excavation-related deaths have nearly doubled over the previous five years. Federal officials have responded by putting increased emphasis on trench safety awareness and enforcement of existing regulations during the current fiscal year. Missouri construction workers should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires implementation of specific safety procedures whenever work requires excavation or working in trenches.

When a trench collapses or caves onto a worker, the consequences can be quick and deadly. Worksite regulations require adherence to safety procedures designed to prevent trench accidents. However, OSHA officials say that a combination of factors are causing the recent disregard for worker safety. Time and financial pressures placed on workers and supervisors often lead employers to disregard safety procedures. Other times, simple laziness results in taking deadly risks. Trenches are defined as any excavation deeper than its width and being less than 15 feet wide. Trenches 5 feet deep or more must have safety precautions implemented before workers can enter. Creating sloping and stepping trenches can take more time; however, these safer alternatives reduce the risk of collapses and save worker lives.

While collapses and cave-ins are the primary concern, trench safety also involves proper methods in access and egress. Regulations mandate that any trench with four feet of depth must have a ladder within 25 feet of every worker. OSHA is implementing an awareness campaign in June with hopes of reducing trench injuries across the nation.

Most injured workers are entitled to benefits under workers compensation laws. Consulting a qualified injury lawyer can give an injured worker and their family comfort and peace of mind regarding available benefits, remedies and strategies.

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