Employers in New Jersey can expect increased enforcement of OSHA rules related to trenching and excavation. From 2011 to 2016, there were 130 deaths related to trenching or excavation, and 49 percent of those fatalities happened between 2015 and 2016. Employers are required to inspect trenches on a regular basis to identify hazards that could lead to a worker being hurt or killed. There are many steps that can be taken to prevent a trench collapse.
If a trench is more than 5 feet deep, it needs to have a protective system. For trenches that are 20 feet or deeper, the protective system needs to be designed by an engineer. All trenches should have an entry and exit that is safe and easy for workers to access. To reduce the odds of a collapse, the trench should be cut at a slope angled away from the excavation work taking place.
Workers are urged to never enter a trench until it has been inspected by a competent person. They are also discouraged from entering a trench if there is water inside of it or anything else that could be hazardous to their health. On October 1, OSHA launched an outreach program to help employers comply with trench and excavation requirements.
A construction site accident may cause significant injuries to those working in the impacted area. Injured workers may be entitled to compensation to help them pay for medical bills and make up for lost wages. An attorney may help those who have questions about the workers’ compensation system or need help applying for benefits. If a worker’s application is denied, legal counsel may assist that person in finding out what happened and taking steps to obtain a more favorable outcome.