FRANKFORT, KY (5/5/12) - The warm spring weather means an increased number of construction sites across Kentucky. That also means more trenching and excavation work that creates hazards to workers, according to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.
Trenching and excavating can be a hazard process if not done correctly by using sloping, shoring, or trench boxes to abate potential cave-ins.
The Labor Cabinet inspects construction worksites; in fact, since Jan. 1, 2011, the cabinet’s Division of Compliance has issued 52 violations regarding excavation work. Forty-four of these violations were serious, one was willful serious, four were repeat serious and three were other-than-serious. The total penalties added up to $241,475.
A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard that the employer knew or should have known. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Two of the investigations were initiated by fatalities.
“Most fatal collapses occur on small, short-duration jobs like water, gas, electrical and sewer connections where trenches are less than 10 feet in depth,” said Labor Cabinet Secretary Mark Brown. “We ask workers to preplan the job site before moving any dirt; to develop a plan for employee safety; to determine the location of underground utilities and mark them appropriately; and, to inspect the job site each morning and after each event that may increase hazards to the employees tasked with entering the trench.”
Other hazards related to trenching and excavations include:
• Falls into the trench or excavation
• Tripping over equipment
• Excavated material or other objects falling on workers
• Exposure to underground services or overhead electrical cables
• Unstable adjacent structures
• Mishandled or poorly placed materials
• Hazardous atmospheres (noxious gases/lack of oxygen)
• Toxic, irritating or flammable and explosive gases
• Incidents involving vehicles and other mobile equipment
• And water infiltration into open trenches.
Safety information about trenching and excavation can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Information provided by Ricki Gardenhir
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