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OSHA wants to keep trench workers safe

New Jersey construction workers will be at a lower risk of getting hurt in a trench accident if OSHA has its way. It says that it wants to make reducing such accidents among its priorities in 2018. This will be done by educating both workers and employers about ways to prevent cave-ins as well as increase awareness of the risks that come when trenching.

An average of two people died per month in trench accidents in 2011 according to OSHA. In 2016, the fatality rate for trenching and excavation was nearly double the average of the previous five years. There have been many suggestions as to why this was the case. Pressure related to time and money, laziness and inadequate enforcement by state and federal safety groups have all been cited as contributing to the cause. Common methods of preventing a trench collapse include shoring, shielding and benching.

If a trench is at least 5 feet deep, there must be a protection system in place if the trench is not made in solid rock. For trenches less than 5 feet deep, a competent person may decide if such a system is necessary. In the event that a trench is 20 feet or deeper, it must be designed by a professional engineer or be based on data gathered by one.

When OSHA violations lead to a person getting hurt at work, he or she could be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can include the payment or reimbursement of medical bills and, in some cases, a percentage of wages lost during the recovery period. An attorney can often help with the claims process.

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