Many construction workers are killed or hospitalized as the result of workplace injuries that happen in trench cave-ins. Workers can get crushed by walls that cave in or debris falling down.
Recently, fines in excess of $42,000 have been proposed for OSHA safety violations committed by two Denver area construction companies. The two companies were found in violation because workers were exposed to hazardous work conditions and at risk of being caught in a cave-in.
One company was cited for both willful and serious violations while the other company was cited for only a serious violation. Willful violations are given when a company intentionally disregards safety laws or ignores employee safety and health on the job. A serious violation is given when the employer knew or should have known about a hazard that could cause serious injury or death.
The fines and citations were given in connection with a trench cave-in at a job site in Arapahoe County. A worker on the site was injured when he was crushed in a trench wall collapse. OSHA concluded that the accident could have been avoided had the companies protected the workers from the cave-in.
According to OSHA officials, workers were not provided an adequate ladder to get in and out of the trench. There was also a lack of a proper sloping system in the trench. The employers should have made sure that those safety precautions were in place in case of a cave-in.
In order to comply with the federal safety standards, employers must protect against possible collapse if an excavation is more than 5 feet deep.
Source: OSHA Regional News Release, “US Department of Labor’s OSHA fines 2 Denver area companies more than $42,000 for exposing workers to trench cave-in,” 09 June 2011