New York construction workers face an array of job hazards. They often work in incomplete structures or deal with heavy machinery. Given the type of work that these employees do, workplace accidents can be serious and even deadly. Trenching and excavation projects are particularly risky. Between 2011 and 2016, 130 workers were killed on the job while working on these types of projects. Even more concerning, a full 49 percent of these deaths happened between 2015 and 2016 alone.
As a result, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a national priority program for inspections, education and enforcement related to workplace safety in trenching and excavation. Private construction firms accounted for 80 percent of the fatalities recorded between 2011 and 2016. Of these, 40 workers lost their lives at industrial sites, 39 at private homes and 21 more on highways and other roads. OSHA enforcement has already levied hefty fines on construction companies over safety violations. Earlier this year, it fined one company over $400,000 for violations linked to trench cave-ins.
The agency is also stepping up educational efforts, creating online resources highlighting safety standards for employers. It is creating a national database of all trenching and excavation inspections and has ordered local and regional offices to prioritize inspections of these types of projects. The program directs inspectors to launch an inspection if they encounter trenching or excavation activities, regardless of whether a violation was observed.
When construction workers are injured in a workplace accident, they may face mounting medical bills and an inability to return to work. Injured workers can consult with workers' compensation lawyers about pursuing the benefits they deserve.