Construction workers in Illinois and Indiana have grueling jobs, but they don’t expect to have fatal accidents. Sadly, a number of workers have died this year in cave-ins while working in trenches.
Tragedy in cave-in trenches
Within the first half of 2022, 13 workers died after the trenches they were working in collapsed. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were fewer deaths in the previous two years while workers performed the same jobs.
Compared with the number of deaths in 2020 and 2021 among construction workers performing excavations, 2022 has seen a 68% uptick in fatal accidents. OSHA reported that 22 workers have now died while doing trench work. Because of the large increase, OSHA has stated that it will be investigating the deaths and launching an initiative to stop more of these tragedies from happening.
Worker deaths that prompted the initiative
OSHA made the decision to take action with its initiative after learning about two worker deaths in June 2022. The men were working on an unprotected trench after suffering fatal injuries. The trench was 20 feet deep and suddenly collapsed on them while they were working. The deaths could have been prevented if trench shields had been used. It was discovered that the trench shields were sitting nearby the excavation site, unused.
With its enhanced enforcement initiative, OSHA is considering issuing criminal referrals for any worker deaths occurring as a result of employers failing to take proper action to keep workers safe from trench collapses. A spokesman for OSHA stated that all deaths from trench accidents could be prevented if employers would comply with OSHA’s safety standards.
Workers deserve to stay safe in construction and all industries. Loved ones should not have to bury their family members because they were doing their jobs.