Many construction workers in Pennsylvania understand just how dangerous it can be to work in a trench or on an excavation site. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 130 deaths on such sites between 2011 and 2016. That’s why OSHA has begun a National Emphasis Program (NEP) related to excavation and trenching. The program began on Oct. 1, and it features both prevention and employer outreach efforts.
Employers are encouraged to review the Trenching and Excavation Quick Card for more information about how to comply with current rules. Previous violations related to excavation and trench work have resulted in significant proposed fines. Earlier this year, OSHA suggested a fine of $250,000 to a company that had its employees working in a trench without cave-in protections. Another company was subject to a proposed fine of over $400,000 for a similar scenario in addition to other violations discovered by the agency.
States that have their own OSHA-approved plans will need to inform the agency about the rules it plans to adopt. They could mirror those set by the national OSHA instructions or differ from those standards. Inspections regarding trench and excavation work are supposed to take place at any site where any other inspections are already underway. However, this may expose OSHA to legal challenges.
A worker who experiences an on-the-job accident could be entitled to compensation for their injuries. This may help to make up for lost wages or medical expenses incurred after the accident. An attorney may be able to help someone looking to file a workers’ compensation claim. Legal counsel could also be helpful if an employer refuses to open a case or takes other steps with the intent to prevent an employee from seeking such benefits.