Employers in Massachusetts and throughout the United States are required to protect excavation workers who dig five feet or more from sidewall collapses. Safety measures may include sloping soil at a shallow angle, shoring trench walls, or using a trench box designed to protect excavation workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), an East Coast business willfully failed to follow mandatory trenching and excavation safety guidelines with tragic results. Sadly, two men were killed when a trench collapsed.
Following an investigation into the trench cave-in death of two employees, OSHA issued one willful and nine serious violations to the landscape, excavation, and snow removal business that employed them. In general, a willful violation occurs when an employer voluntarily or knowingly disregards federal health and safety laws designed to protect workers. A serious violation results when an employer knew or should have known about a hazard that is substantially likely to cause an employee to suffer serious physical harm or death.