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OSHA pushes trench and excavation safety

Workers in Connecticut who have to work in or around trenches and excavations may be interested to know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will make the reduction of excavation and trenching accidents a priority in 2018. The agency plans to promote awareness regarding the hazards trenching poses to construction workers, reduce the number of trench collapses and inform workers and employers on how cave-ins can be safely prevented.

According to OSHA, two workers were killed every month in 2011, and there has been no improvement in the fatality statistics for such accidents. The Bureaus of Labor Statistics reports that deaths related to trenches and excavations in 2016 were almost twice the average number of deaths reported for the previous five years.

A professional in the construction industry has stated that the increase in deaths caused by trenches and excavations is due to the pressures of money and time, laziness, lack of knowledge about safety rules and no supervision. According to some employee safety organizations, the inadequate enforcement and inspection conducted by state and federal safety organizations are also contributing factors.

Any cut, trench, cavity or depression in the earth's surface that was made by someone removing the earth is considered an excavation by OSHA. The agency defines a trench as a narrow subterranean excavation that is no wider than 15 feet and has a depth that is more than its width.

Workers are at risk when working in or near excavations or trenches. However, trenches are considered more hazardous due to their confined space and steeper walls.

A personal injury attorney may pursue compensation for workers who sustained injuries due to unsafe working conditions. Assistance may be provided for filing for workers' compensation benefits. Clients may be advised if a third-party liability suit is applicable to their situation.

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