Due to an increase in injuries and fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently put an even higher priority on trenching and excavation safety. Several companies have been prosecuted for operating with no protection against cave-ins. That means that the companies faced high penalties—up to $400,000 for one company— and the notoriety of having an unsafe work environment.
If your jobsite will have open trenches or excavation operations, it can mean increased inspections from OSHA. Read on to learn some tips from a Florida OSHA lawyer before you excavate to keep your project on track.
Walk the Site
Walking the site gives you or your team the chance to check for any obvious hazards or features on the jobsite. If there is an existing structure on the property, you can examine exterior walls and foundations for wires or utilities. Discolored soil can indicate a septic system or other buried tanks. It’s good to note if there are any utility covers, patches in the pavement, or utility markers that may indicate buried utilities on the jobsite.
You can’t count on survey companies to call 811 for your site. If you don’t make the call yourself and get word from the utility companies, you could run into underground utilities which can result in delays and fines up to $10,000. Imagine your crew is digging and suddenly the hole fills with water from a broken pipe. Some utilities can be as close as a few inches below the surface of the soil.
The water table, distance to nearby buildings, and traffic can all affect excavation on your jobsite. Boundary, topographic, and hydrographic surveys are some of the surveys your site may need to give your team a better understanding of how to excavate. For instance, you may find limestone or water beneath the surface of your site. Those conditions and others will require different tools and equipment, like pumps or jackhammers.
Trenching and excavating are important to construction projects but come with many hazards. Your team needs to follow all the applicable OSHA guidelines to stay safe and keep the project running without delays.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.