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Willful violation leads to injuries, federal fines and penalties

It is important that anyone in Denver that works in excavation knows that his or her employer is responsible for training their employees on safety in the workplace. Imagine starting an excavation job and not knowing what the safety procedures were or how to recognize the signs of collapse. Many people in Colorado would want to know exactly what they must do to avoid getting hurt at work and injured workers would want to know why their employer failed to explain all of this.

When something like this does happen, however, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration may step in and penalize employers. In a recent case, OSHA inspectors responded to concerns after an employee injured his or her back. He or she had been working in a trench that was being used to install a sewer line when the trench collapsed. It is not clear what caused the 8-foot trench to collapse, but after OSHA inspectors looked deeper they found three safety violations.

Two of the violations of federal workplace laws were extremely serious. The first violation was because the employer hadn't required employees to use protective helmets. Because digging trenches and excavation in general can be quite dangerous, it is essential that workers wear head protection and it is the employer's responsibility to ensure its employees follow this rule.

The other violation was a failure to train its employees on the dangers of working in excavation. OSHA determined that these two violations posed a serious threat of death or injury and that the employer should have or did know about them.

While the other two violations were just considered serious, the third violation was a willful violation, meaning that the employer knew it should have provided employees with protection from cave-ins and that it chose not to, without consideration of the employees' safety.

With the amount of construction and excavation work that is done in and around Denver, these types of worker injuries are possible and it is important that employees suffering back injuries remember that they can apply for workers' compensation following an accident.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release, "US Department of Labor's OSHA cites G & J Enterprises after worker injured during trench collapse in Loveland, Ohio," March 13, 2012

1 Comment

OSHA regulations are in place for a reason. It's foolish to ignore them. Not only are you putting your employees at risk, but you will also receive a hefty fine if you are caught. It's not worth it. Safety should always be a priority.

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