Trenching and excavation is a dangerous job. Many people are injured or killed while using excavating equipment on construction sites. Workers have the right to be protected from trenching injuries. If employers do not use proper safety procedures, they may be fined or shut down, as a Chicago workers’ comp attorney is aware.

A recent case of severe negligence in Illinois

A recent investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration underscores the dangers of improper trenching practices. After reports of unsafe conditions on site, a construction company in Illinois, A. Lamp Contractors, was inspected by OSHA officials. The company was found to be placing employees in severe danger of cave-ins in an unprotected 8-foot-deep trench. OSHA fined A. Lamp Contractors more than $60,000 and placed it on a watch list for willful violation of trenching safety regulations and willful endangerment of workers.

What is willful endangerment?

According to OSHA regulations, employers are willfully violating trenching safety laws if any one of these factors is in play:

  • Deliberate disregard for trenching safety requirements
  • Deliberate long-term ignorance of safety laws
  • Gross and severe indifference to the safety and health of trenching workers

Willful safety violations on excavation sites are a serious matter and are punished accordingly, as every Chicago workers’ comp attorney knows.

Workers need protection against cave-ins

OSHA statistics show that employees are at severe risk of a trenching injury if they are working without cave-in protection in a trench more than 5 feet deep. A deep trench may collapse at any moment, trapping workers and causing possible death by asphyxiation. Workers have the legal right to know about the dangers of trenching. They also have the right to work in a safe environment with proper equipment.

Basic rules for trenching safety

Excavation workers in trenches must test for the presence of toxic fumes and low oxygen before starting to work. They must inspect every trench after rainstorms, additional excavations and other destabilizing events. Each employee needs high visibility clothing and functional communication devices while in the trench. Heavy equipment and suspended loads must be kept away from the edge of trenches to avoid the danger of a sudden cave-in. A single cubic meter of dirt weighs as much as a car. If the sides of a trench are allowed to cave in, fatal injuries may result.

Excavation can be safer with the right training and procedures. Workers who have been injured while trenching may benefit from calling a Chicago workers’ comp attorney.