June designated to raise awareness of trench collapse prevention

Construction can often be a lengthy, complicated process. Though there may be a desire to reduce costs and save time, doing so can often have tragic consequences for construction workers in California and across the country. For example, efforts to do so -- along with other factors -- could result in a trench collapse.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released statistics regarding 2019 trench collapses as organizations geared up for Trench Safety Month in June. According to OSHA, excavation violations were one of the leading causes of issued citations. Within this category, the failure to provide trench protection was the most frequent reason for a citation.

There are a variety of factors that could lead to a citation related to the collapse of a trench, including the failure to protect from collapse, lack of a ladder, or other means, to navigate in and out of the trench, and not designating a competent person to inspect trenches daily, protect workers, be on-site, among other responsibilities. One survey provides additional insights on the perceived causes of these accidents. Responses indicate causes such as the desire to save money and stay on schedule, a failure to understand OSHA standards and language barriers.

As a result of a significant increase in the number of fatalities due to collapses from 2015 to 2017, OSHA increased the number of inspections, ultimately resulting in a reduction; however, 17 people still lost their lives in trench collapse accidents in 2018. Though efforts to decrease these types of work-related accidents appear to be effective, there are still victims -- including surviving family members in the event of a fatality -- that are left to cope with the consequences of a trench collapse. Though these victims may qualify for workers' compensation insurance benefits that can help them cope with the financial consequences of a workplace accident, many are unsure of the process. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals in California who can help.

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