• John Larrimer

Are Ohio Businesses Not Protecting Workers from Trench Collapses?

Inspectors with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) claim excavation companies are not protecting workers from trench collapses. Data collected by OSHA shows trench collapses have caused 23 deaths and 13 injuries since January. Some of these fatal and nonfatal work accidents occurred in Ohio.

In June, a 33-year-old man died while working in a 12-foot trench at an Ohio worksite. As he was digging, the trench walls collapsed and buried him under thousands of pounds of dirt. Another incident occurred two weeks ago in Seven Hills, Ohio. In the second incident, a 28-year-old employee was buried underneath 14,000 pounds of dirt while installing sewer lines. The worker survived but suffered severe injuries.

OSHA employees carrying out inspections have witnessed businesses put workers in harm’s way. An OSHA inspector in Ohio removed a worker from an unsafe trench and launched an investigation into the employer.

How Do Businesses Protect Workers from Trench Collapses?

OSHA considers a trench to be any man-made cut, cavity or depression in the ground deeper than it is wide. Businesses should use protective systems in trenches deeper than five feet. Trenches deeper than 20 feet require protective systems designed by professional engineers.

Protective systems can include cutting trench walls at an angle, installing supports to prevent soil movement or cave-ins or shielding workers with trench boxes. OSHA requires businesses to keep heavy equipment away from trench edges, and to inspect trenches after rainstorms. These are only a few examples of how excavation and construction businesses may protect trench workers. Trench collapses are preventable when businesses put workplace safety first.

The Ohio workers comp attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC can help workers and their families discover options for covering medical expenses and lost income.


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