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Trench collapses threaten workers with injury or death

Ohio workers who build sewers or work on other jobs that require them to remain below the surrounding grade for many hours are constantly threatened by collapse of the soil and rock around them. In three separate incidents involving Ohio construction companies, the failure to provide adequate precautions against such workplace accidents have resulted in one death, one serious injury and a citation for violating the regulation that requires the use of cribs, shoring and other safety measures to prevent trenches from collapsing.

In an accident in June 2016, a worker was buried as he was digging soil out of a 12-foot trench. He was buried by thousands of pounds of sand and rocks, and he was dead when rescuers recovered his body several hours later. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $274,359 for violations of anti-cave-in regulations. A second incident occurred on Nov. 19, 2016, when a worker installing sewer lines was buried by an estimated 14,000 pounds of dirt in the collapse of an eight-foot trench. Co-workers responded immediately and were able to dig the man out before he suffocated. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where his condition was not disclosed.

In a related incident, an OSHA inspector spotted a worker at the bottom of a 15-foot trench that had no cave-in protection. The worker was removed from the trench, and OSHA has begun an investigation of the man's employer.

Trench cave-ins are a leading cause of workplace injury. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a trench collapse may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in workplace accidents for an evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering workers' compensation benefits or damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: EHS Today, "OSHA Cites Companies After Trench Collapse Kills Worker," Stefanie Valentic, Nov. 22, 2016

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

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