Construction workers in New Jersey may be particularly concerned about the danger of workplace injuries and accidents, especially following the rising number of injuries and fatalities due to accidents and collapses in trenches and excavations. The construction industry overall can present a higher risk of on-the-job injuries due to the heavy physical labor and machinery involved in unfinished structures. In addition, the depressions, cuts and cavities used in excavations and trenches can pose a particular threat of cave-ins, collapses or falls.
In response to the rising number of workplace injuries being sustained in trenches, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified trench safety improvement as a major goal and priority in 2018. While two workers have been killed each month since 2011 due to trench collapses, the number went up sharply in 2016; fatalities caused by trench and excavation injuries doubled the average over the previous five years. In response, OSHA has emphasized trench safety requirements, like providing clear egress mechanisms and using protective systems and technologies, especially in trenches deeper than 5 feet.
As part of its prioritization of trench safety, the agency is working to build awareness of steps that can be taken to prevent injuries before they occur. Some experts in the industry have blamed a lack of safety knowledge, insufficient supervision or “laziness” for the deaths, but workers have highlighted a lack of ongoing enforcement and inspection to ensure that federal safety standards are being upheld.
Many workers regularly face a threat of serious injury or even death on the job whether due to improper safety situations or simply the inherent danger of a type of work. Injured workers have a right to compensation for their damages caused by an on-the-job accident. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help people suffering from a workplace injury protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve.