News Release from OSHA & U.S. Department of Labor

08/23/2022 Written by: Kyp Ross

On July 14th, 2022 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a press release regarding an uptick in fatalities. The press release, titled “Alarming rise in trench-related fatalities spurs US Department of Labor to announce enhanced nationwide enforcement, additional oversight” announced that during the first half of 2022, 22 workers have been victims of deadly hazards involving a trench and/or excavation work.

This number is alarmingly high, as there were a total of 15 fatalities in all of 2021. With this unfortunately high number, OSHA is evaluating the tools at their disposal to protect workers and keep safe working conditions. In additional to asking employers involved in trenching and excavating activities to ensure that all safety requirements are being met, they will also have OSHA compliance officers performing more than 1,000 trench inspections nationwide. OSHA will also review penalties for incidents, which may include criminal referrals for federal or state prosecution to hold employers and others accountable when their actions or inactions kill workers or put their lives at risk.

According to the OSHA press release, “Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than five feet and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting prior to allowing a worker to enter.”

OSHA is urging anyone that is witness to, or has knowledge of, a violation to contact their local OSHA office, or call 800-321-OSHA.

The full press release can be viewed here.

While this is a serious and scary trend, you can make sure to do your part by maintaining the most up-to-date safety standards in your construction sites. Don’t know where to start for a safety review? Contacting the AssuredPartners Construction & Surety Team is a great first step to increasing your safety measures onsite. Our team of professionals not only know how to cover the unique risks in this field but can help with additional plan options like safety reviews and training.

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