Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

OSHA releases trencing and excavation NEP

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated its excavation and trenching National Emphasis Program, superseding a special emphasis instruction that was released in 1985. The new standards may establish requirements for Connecticut businesses. The increased enforcement has been called for, according to OSHA, by the number of trenching or excavation collapses that result in loss of life.

The NEP directive says that 130 deaths were recorded in excavation and trenching projects from 2011 to 2016 with 49 percent of these incidents occurring from 2015 to 2016. Private construction projects accounted for 80 percent of these construction accident deaths. The NEP directive requires that OSHA offices conduct outreach programs to help employers meet the excavation and trenching standards. The outreach is scheduled to run for 90 days beginning on Oct. 1, 2018. After the outreach period, enforcement and inspections will begin under the new NEP.

OSHA advises that a trench should never be entered unless it has cave-in protection measures and a safe method of entry and exit. Trenches should be inspected prior to entry and they should be free of atmospheric hazards and standing water. Trenches that are 5 feet deep or deeper must have a protective system installed. Trenches that are 20 feet deep or deeper must have a protective system that has been designed by a professional engineer. Trench walls should be sloped or benched by removing the dirt or earth at an incline away from excavation.

Employers in Connecticut are required to provide safe working environments for their employees. Workers who are injured on the job might be entitled to recover for damages. An attorney with experience handling workers' compensation cases may be able to help by gathering evidence and putting together a claim for the client or by representing the client during official hearings. In most workers' comp cases, the injured worker is not required to prove negligence or wrongdoing in order to recover.

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