Some of the most dangerous jobs that construction workers in New York and elsewhere face each year involve trenching and excavation. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 130 workers were killed while taking part in trenching and excavation operations between 2011 and 2016.
In order to increase worker safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration kicked off a National Emphasis Program aimed at trenching and excavation issues on Oct. 1. During the three-month initiative, the agency will provide education and prevention outreach to various contractors in the construction industry, including excavation employers, permitting organizations, water works supply companies and plumbing companies. It will also offer compliance assistance support and establish a national reporting system for OSHA trenching and excavation inspections.
Federal statistics show that 80 percent of the trenching and excavation deaths that occurred between 2011 and 2016 involved private construction contractors. Furthermore, 49 percent of those fatalities occurred in 2015 and 2016. This means that accidents are on the rise. To help combat the issue, OSHA recently began pushing for higher penalties against companies that expose workers to unsafe trenching and excavations conditions. Earlier this year, the agency recommended a fine of more than $400,000 for a company that placed workers at risk. The agency also issued a proposed fine of more than $250,000 for another company that had inadequate cave-in protection.
Workers who are injured in construction site accidents caused by negligence may benefit from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. This type of complaint could compensate a worker for medical bills, lost wages and other losses. An attorney could review the details of the accident and explain all the choices available.