Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Supervision and safety requirements are necessary for trenching

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Virginia trench workers know that safety in the workplace is important. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has safety guidelines for most professions, including trench work. Despite the availability of these guidelines to workers and contractors, the frequency of trench-related incidents resulting in death rose by more than 200 percent in 2016.

Cases of fatal trench accidents have resulted in fines for negligent companies and contractors as well as prison sentences for on-site supervisors. In some cases, contractors have been prosecuted for safety violations and even for criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. Negligence that results in death can be avoided if contractors choose to properly train workers, prioritize safety over financial restrictions and promote a culture of safety among project contributors. Contractors could also make a habit of refusing to work with companies that ignore safety practices.

A representative of an insurance and risk management firm stated that the regulations provided by OSHA should be the minimum safety requirements for people working in trenches. Since trenching is such a hazardous job, however, it might be safer to also have a person supervising workers even though OSHA does not include this in their guidelines. Even if workers are not being supervised, teams can benefit from using common sense while working in trenches.

A worker who has been injured on the job because of the negligence of a supervisor, poor training or dangerous working conditions may decide to discuss their situation with an attorney. A lawyer could assist an injured worker with filing a workers' compensation claim and collecting evidence in order to build a case.

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