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Trench collapse hazards identified at plumbing site

It is sometimes difficult to understand how Missouri company owners can willfully subject employees to deadly safety hazards without providing protection. Sadly, this often happens even after federal regulators have cited them. This also happens in other states, and a construction company in a neighboring state that had been cited for exposing workers to trench collapse hazards twice since 2012 was recently cited for a third time.

The most recent citation followed an inspection after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration received reports of workers exposed to unsafe trenches. Workers apparently complained that they were tasked with the removal of a sewer line from an unsecured trench that was over 8-feet deep in March. An OSHA spokesperson said a trench without reinforcement can bury workers under thousands of pounds of soil in seconds.

OSHA inspectors also said this company's owners are aware of the regulation that stipulates that any trench that exceeds a depth of 5 feet must be secured with cave-in protection. The agency provides clear directives on shoring methods and other steps to take to protect workers in trenches. By ignoring the federal safety standards related to trenching, employers knowingly put workers' lives on the line.

Any Missouri worker who has suffered a workplace injury in a trench collapse may pursue benefits through the state's workers' compensation insurance fund. Benefits typically cover medical expenses brought about by a workplace injury, while also offering vocational training if an injury led to a disability that may prevent a worker from continuing his or her current job. Furthermore, a financial package may be included to cover lost income due to lost time caused by the accident.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "OSHA fines Naperville construction company with third fine", Daniel Brown, May 13, 2016

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