Trenches are some of the most dangerous areas on building sites nationwide, including Oklahoma. Employers must comply with strict safety standards to protect workers from circumstances that could lead to a workplace injury, and noncompliance can lead to citations and stiff fines. However, that does not seem to concern many construction company owners who continue to prioritize profits over employee safety.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors saved the lives of three construction workers when they ordered the workers out of an unprotected trench. The incident occurred during an OSHA review of a worksite. They reported that the trench was close to 13 feet deep, with no means of stabilizing the walls.
Reportedly, one of the trench walls collapsed moments after the workers got out to safety. Safety authorities say such close encounters with death are par for the course for construction workers in Oklahoma. After this incident, OSHA issued citations for failure to protect workers from cave-ins, and for keeping the pile of spoils closer than 2 feet from the edge of the trench. Fines of $93,000 were proposed.
Exposing workers to potentially deadly work environments is unacceptable. When a workplace injury leads to medical expenses and lost wages, workers are typically eligible for workers' compensation benefits through the state-regulated insurance program. In some cases, employers do what they can to challenge benefits claims, to avoid insurance premium increases. However, with the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney, Oklahoma workers have increased chances of receiving all the benefits allowed under applicable laws.