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OSHA works to improve workplace safety in trenches

For many workers in Georgia, the danger of workplace accidents and injuries can pose fears for the future. This is especially true in industries like construction, where workers daily engage in heavy physical labor on buildings and other structures in progress, using extensive and elaborate machinery. Trenches and excavations can pose particular concerns for workplace safety as underground depressions and cavities pose a risk for cave-ins, collapses, falls or equipment or load accidents.

Due to the high risk of workplace accidents occurring because of trenches, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has prioritized a reduction of trench and excavation accidents in 2018 as a major goal. Since 2011, approximately two workers have been killed every month due to collapsing trenches, and in 2016, the number of fatalities due to excavation and trench injuries doubled the average over the prior five years. The agency is seeking to raise awareness of preventative actions that can be taken to improve safety.

While some construction experts have pointed to a lack of knowledge about safety rules and insufficient supervision as reasons for the growing number of fatalities, others have emphasized a need for enforcement of the safety standards that are already in place. OSHA has emphasized the need for protective systems in trenches, especially all excavations that are at least 5 feet deep. In the case of trenches that are 20 feet deep or more, workers must use protective systems that have been designed by a professional engineer.

Trenches and excavations can be a particularly hazardous area of work, but workplace accidents and injuries can happen to people who are employed in all types of industries. Individuals who are injured on the job have a right to compensation, and a workers' compensation attorney can provide important guidance and representation for people who are seeking to be compensated for their medical bills, lost wages and other expenses as a result of a workplace injury.

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