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OSHA citations follow deaths of 2 workers in trench collapse

Missouri employers have to protect any employees against workplace hazards in all areas of their employment. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes safety regulations for all activities, and failure to comply may lead to severe workplace injuries and even deaths. A landscaping company in another state was recently cited by OSHA after an investigation into a trench collapse that took the lives of two workers.

According to the regulations, the walls of trenches should be sloped and shored or supported by protecting shields. Safe exit must be provided by ladders that should be placed every 25 feet, and every worker should wear head protection. Furthermore, all utilities such as gas lines and electric cables should be marked, and the safety of trenches must be checked by competent supervisors before activities inside commence.

OSHA says a collapsed trench wall could bury workers under as much as one cubic yard of soil, equal to the weight of a small car. Investigators determined that the landscapers had no opportunity to escape the danger because the company blatantly disregarded the safety of the workers. As a result, two families now have to adjust to life without their loved ones, whose deaths could have been avoided.

The Missouri workers' compensation insurance fund provides death benefits for a family who has lost a loved one in a trench collapse or other workplace accident. Death benefits typically cover end-of-life expenses, along with payments for covered dependents based on the deceased worker's wage level. While no amount of money can replace a loved one, compensation may ease the unanticipated financial burden placed on the family.

Source: ohsonline.com, "OSHA Cites Landscaping Company for Trench Collapse", April 4, 2015

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