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OSHA investigation examines trenching and excavation risks

When there is an injury or fatality on the job, Massachusetts workers and their families must be fully aware of the steps they should take to receive workers' compensation benefits. Some jobs hold a certain amount of inherent risk and it is up to the employer and regulatory agencies to ensure the proper steps are taken to make sure workers are safe. This is especially true with trenches and excavation. As the number of deaths increase with trenching and excavation projects, more attention is paid to the safety of workers. If a person was hurt or a family lost a loved one when working in a trench or while excavating, it is critical to know how to pursue compensation.

There has been an effort by the U.S. Department of Labor to significantly lower the number of injuries and deaths in trenching and excavation. Their goal is to lower the total by 10 percent from the total in the fiscal year of 2017 to September 30, 2019. To achieve this, they plan to raise the number of inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and by helping employers increase compliance. Even with that, accidents will still happen.

Trenching and excavation is particularly risky due to the potential of the trench becoming flooded and the weight of the dirt being so hefty that, when it caves in, the worker can be crushed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, in 2016, there were almost two times the average of trench and excavation deaths for the five years before combined. OSHA is also fining contractors that do not adhere to the safety protocols when workers are excavating or digging trenches. One Florida company had two violations that resulted in an employee being injured in a trench collapse. It was fined nearly $272,000.

Trench and excavation injuries and fatalities are undoubtedly prevalent, but any kind of construction work and work in general can lead to a worker being injured or killed. Keeping track of certain jobs and how dangerous they are can be useful, but after the accident has happened and the person is facing medical costs, lost time at work and a family that is dealing with a work-related fatality, it is crucial to have legal assistance to consider a lawsuit. Contacting a law firm that has experienced in helping clients after a construction accident due to unsafe working conditions or for any other reason is the first step toward getting workers' compensation and other payments to cover for what was lost.

Source: constructiondive.com, "Trench and excavation fatalities rise, regulators prioritize safety," Kim Slowey, March 29, 2018

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