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You can make sure your boss protects you from trench hazards

Trenches are some of the most hazardous areas for construction workers in Oxnard, California, and elsewhere. Sadly, many business owners disregard employee safety, expecting workers to put their lives on the line by working in unprotected trenches. If this sounds familiar, and if you are one of those construction workers whose rights to a safe workplace environment are violated, you are entitled to refuse to enter an unprotected trench.

According to the safety regulations that the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes, a competent person must oversee all aspects of work involving trenches. You may want to look out for yourself by making sure the appropriate precautions are in place.

That competent person must:

  • Address existing and potential hazards during the planning stage. Working conditions may not be unsanitary and dangerous, and protective systems based on the soil type must be in place.
  • Ensure the job area is free of utility lines, or that markers clearly indicate existing lines by calling 811.
  • Establish areas for placement of soil a safe distance away from the edges of the trench.
  • Demarcate a clear space around the trench to prevent heavy equipment compromising the trench walls.
  • Based on the circumstances, prescribe the necessary protective systems that may include a trench box, sloping or scoring the trench walls to prevent collapse.
  • Ensure appropriate ladders to facilitate a quick exit are placed in the trench.
  • Prescribe the appropriate personal protective equipment for the workers, and monitor their constant use of it.
  • Ensure that only adequately trained workers enter the trench, and that they know the emergency protocols. This training must be in the language that the particular employees understand.

You must understand that your employer has no right to force you to enter a trench without the necessary protection, and you have the right to report such safety violations to Cal/OSHA. Not many victims of trench collapses survive, as the amount of soil that can engulf a trench worker typically weighs thousands of pounds. If, however, you were one of the few workers fortunate enough to survive a trench collapse, you need not carry the financial burden by yourself.

An experienced workers' compensation attorney who covers construction workers in Oxnard can assist you throughout the administrative and legal proceedings to pursue compensation. Benefits typically cover medical expenses and lost income -- if your injuries caused time away from work. If your injuries resulted in disability, the attorney might be able to arrange additional compensation.

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