Expert Opinion: Trench Safety

March 5th, 2021

Trench collapses, or cave-ins, are among the occupational hazards that pose the greatest risk to workers’ lives. Just this year, OSHA penalized an employer for two serious violations of trenching standards. According to the complaint, in 2016, following the death of an employee in an unprotected trench, the employer agreed to adopt a comprehensive trench safety program. But in 2020, federal inspectors found another company employee working in a trench without cave-in protection while active, unprotected utilities ran across the trench.

Under California law, employers are responsible for providing their employees with a safe workplace. This responsibility includes adequately protecting against the risks associated with earth trenches and excavations. And to prevent against these risks, employers must ensure:

1.Safe entry and exit from trenches; cave-in protections; materials are stored away from trench edges;

2. Environmental hazards, such as standing water, are absent;

3. Adequate stability through shoring, bracing, retaining, or underpinning the excavation;

4.Trench inspections occur prior to the start of work, as needed throughout the shift, and after every rainstorm or hazard increasing occurrence.

When basic safety rules aren’t followed, people get hurt. At Kramer Trial Lawyers, our personal injury lawyers handle all types of construction and premise liability claims. If you or a loved one has been injured by trenching or excavation hazards, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced construction site injury attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options.

OSHA alleges Missouri plumbing contractor exposed worker to unprotected trench despite agreement to implement trench safety program