Florida workers required to dig gas, water or sewer lines are well aware of the potential dangers involved in their line of work. If an excavation site caves in, everyone in the trench could die. That’s why the Occupational Safety Health Administration has updated its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

OSHA officials claim that there has been a recent rise in fatalities at excavation sites. According to a report that tracked incidents from 2011 through 2016, nearly half of the fatalities took place in the last two years of the study. More than 75 percent of the deaths occurred at private construction sites.

OSHA has informed contractors of its intent to step up enforcement of excavation sites. Field officers must now make an inspection whenever they observe an open trench in a job site. In the past, inspections were often only made when a violation was observed. Inspections by a competent person on the site must now be conducted daily. The inspector must ensure that fortifications are in place and up to regulation, a means of ingress and egress is present and that equipment is away from the edge of the trench.

To be in compliance, a site must have a stepped-back trench, reinforcement with metal and hydraulic supports or walls that are shielded and reinforced. Before the increased enforcement begins, OSHA has provided literature and other teaching aids to contractors for compliance. For a three-month period, field agents will be reaching out to employers and assist in meeting standards.

A caved-in excavation often leads to tragedy. Loved ones may be forced to endure the emotional anguish stemming from an occupational death. At these times, a personal injury attorney experienced in construction cases can help mitigate the losses suffered.