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Cook County, Illinois

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Barry Doyle
Barry Doyle
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Knowledge of hazards key to trench collapse prevention

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The foreman of a Texas plumbing crew admitted that he was not familiar with the federal regulations which are intended to protect workers against the hazards of a trench collapse. As a result, he sent his crew into a trench that had been dug three weeks earlier. Intervening rainstorms had weakened the walls of the trench, leading to a collapse which trapped one of his co-workers.

The trapped co-worker suffered a fractured ankle.

OSHA regulations are intended to assure the safety of workers of construction sites and are not simply there to cause harrassment and expense to employers. Of course, these regulations do not provide a lot of benefit if the people in charge of work crews do not know what is required.

One of the crucial OSHA regulations is the comptent person requirement. This requires all employers to have a person on site with the background and authority to identify and correct any hazards. Pleading ignorance, as this supervisor is doing, does not cut it.