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Trench Safety: Preventing Collapses

Most trench collapses that cause injuries and fatalities are preventable through adherence to OSHA safety standards. Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 25 workers die in trench collapses in the United States. For construction workers, plumbers, and others who routinely work in trenches, the following safety measures can help prevent workplace injuries or deaths.

Trench Safety Protects Workers from Cave-ins

  • Keep the Edge of the Trench Clean. Debris and material pulled from the trench should be piled no closer than 2 feet from the trench edge. Ideally, material should be deposited even further away or removed from the site until the work within the trench is complete.
  • Shoring is Essential. All trenches that are deeper than 4 feet should be properly shored to prevent cave-ins. Shoring should be regularly inspected and any sections that have shifted or come loose should be repaired prior to continuing work in the trench.
  • Wear Helmets. Wearing hard hats can help prevent head injuries caused by falling debris when working within a trench.
  • Teamwork Is Vital. Operating in teams of two workers or more with one individual operating outside the trench helps ensure emergency help is available.
  • Mark Trenches. Marking off trenches using barriers, tapes, and other devices will alert passersby of the presence of an open trench. All vehicular traffic should be directed away from the trench and workers should not be in the trench when heavy machinery is driving past.
  • Ventilate the Trench. All trenches should be monitored for toxic gases. These include natural gas, diesel exhaust, methane, and other fumes that can seep through the soil or collect within the trench. Proper ventilation ensures that there is sufficient fresh air within the trench and helps reduce the risk of explosions which can cause a trench collapse.

OSHA Compliance

OSHA safety standards require that a competent individual oversee the operation of any trenches. At least one individual is required to properly classify the soil, supervise trench construction and water removal, and inspect protective devices within the trench. This individual must also design and monitor ramps and conduct regular trench inspections until the trench is filled and the work is complete. These requirements are non-negotiable and employers in Nevada who fail to perform these functions negligently place workers at risk of serious injury or death. When collapses occur, it’s common for a history of trench safety violations to emerge. 

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

March 18, 2020 Udpate.

We have just been given notice that all Hearings and Appeals have been vacated and are off calendar by order the Senior Appeals Officer from the Nevada Department of Administration. It is unknown when the reset dates will occur.

March 17, 2020 Update.

As efforts concerning the containment of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continue to evolve here in the U.S. and around the world, we want to assure you that Jason D. Mills & Associates remains committed to three important priorities:

Our offices remain open for business; however, we encourage all existing clients to help us limit exposure and the potential spread of COVID-19 by avoiding in-office meetings. We remain open for business virtually during normally scheduled work hours (9:00 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday). All email, fax, telephone, and other electronic communication will continue without interruption. If you have a scanner please scan documents and send to us in .PDF format. If you do not have a scanner, there are smart phone apps available such as: CamScanner, Adobe Scan and Genius Scan (and many others), that will turn your smart phone into a document scanner at zero or little cost.

Our local courts continue to update and modify their policies and procedures in response to the current COVID-19 situation as well, and we are monitoring those procedures to navigate the impact on your claims. So far, the Hearing and Appeals Office has halted all in-person hearings and is in the process of converting future hearings into telephonic hearings. As we learn more, we will provide updated information.

We also know that many of you have been personally impacted in a number of ways, and we apologize for any inconvenience these modifications may cause you but of course we are all experiencing this disruption together and will get through it together. We will resume normal operations as soon as the local, state and national governments give instructions that it is reasonable to do so. We appreciate your flexibility as we do our part to help bring this unprecedented situation under control.

Again, we are fully operational and are actively working on your claims. If there is anything you need, please feel free to contact our office (telephonically or electronically) during office hours so that we can direct your call and follow up accordingly.