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Workplace safety: Professionals attend trench safety course

Following up on our blog post about a fatal December trench collapse from Jan.4 ("OSHA says most trench collapse fatalities preventable"), utility crews, first responders and contractors flocked to attend a safety training course in Missouri on a recent Thursday. Approximately 100 professionals who have had enough of senseless deaths in trench collapses attended this workplace safety course to address the issue. A 30-year-old single parent of an 8-year-old boy died when an unprotected trench collapsed on him in December.

Under federal safety laws, trenches with a depth exceeding five feet need shoring, trench boxes or other ways of securing the walls to prevent collapse. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, safeguarding an excavation is a quick process that should not be neglected. An OSHA director said employees must refuse to enter unprotected trenches.

A fire chief said firefighters who notice workers in a trench that is unsafe should take action. Although it is not a fire -- and they are not OSHA inspectors -- they can save lives by insisting that workers in unprotected trenches get out. This intervention might mean the difference between a rescue and a recovery of a worker's body. According to OSHA, 26 workers nationwide lost their lives in trench collapses last year.

Sadly, employers who neglect workplace safety and send employees into unprotected trenches do not stop to consider the consequences. When a Missouri family loses a loved one in such tragic circumstances, death benefits are available through the workers' compensation insurance program. Some families choose to use the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to pursue the benefits for them while they grieve their losses.

Source: fox4kc.com, "Death of 30-year-old Belton plumber prompts big turnout for trench safety course", John Pepitone, Feb. 9, 2017

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