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OSHA to reduce trenching accidents

Workers in Illinois and the rest of the country who routinely work in or near trenches and excavations have a high risk of incurring injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced its plans to prioritize the reduction of excavation and trenching accidents. The agency's goals are to inform workers and employers about how cave-ins can be safely prevented and to spread awareness about the hazards trenching poses to construction workers. The agency also intends to lower the quantity of trench collapses.

According to OSHA, two workers died every month in 2011 due to trench collapses, and the fatality rate has not improved since that time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that deaths caused by trenching and excavation accidents in 2016 were almost twice the average number of fatalities during the previous five years.

One construction industry expert attributes the rise in fatalities to no supervision, the pressure of money and time, laziness and no knowledge of safety regulations. Employee safety organizations contend that inadequate enforcement and inspections conducted by state and federal safety agencies are also to blame.

Excavations refer to any cut, cavity or depression in the earth's surface made by the removal of earth. Trenches are narrow underground tunnels with widths that do not exceed 15 feet. While both carry significant risks for workers, trenches are generally considered more dangerous. This is due to their more confined spaces and steeper walls.

A personal injury attorney may advise clients injured at work due to unsafe working conditions about their legal options, such as filing for workers compensation benefits. The attorney may guide clients through the process of appealing denied claims. Depending on the factors surrounding the workplace accident that resulted in a client's injuries, a third-party liability suit might be recommended.

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