Hartford Company Fined for Cave-in Workplace Safety Violations

A Hartford, Connecticut, company was recently hit with over $160,000 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The company came under scrutiny for exposing its workers the risk of a construction site accident: a cave-in.

The company was contracted by the government to repair a sewer line in a trench ten feet deep. An OSHA investigation found that no protection existed to prevent the walls from collapsing on workers and the risk was exacerbated by a catwalk and catch basin positioned across the open trench. The employer was previously warned to address the risk but chose to continue sending workers down into the trench without adequate protections in place.

OSHA's Power to Protect Connecticut Workers

OSHA is part of the federal Department of Labor and is in charge of making sure that employees work in safe conditions, especially in high-hazard areas, which include as many construction worksites. As a regulatory agency, OSHA has the ability to set rules for safety standards and issue fines to companies who do not comply.

A cave-in happens when the walls of a trench suddenly collapse. When a trench is dug, the two sides of undisturbed soil are left without the support that the now-missing soil provided. Sometimes, these walls are strong enough to stand up, but in other cases, the walls can no longer stand without support and begin to cave into the hole, burying everyone and everything inside the trench. Other than the daunting force that a cave-in can have, its speed makes it far more dangerous; many cave-ins happen in an instant.

Cave-ins can cause serious injury and even death. The force of massive amounts of shifting soil can break bones and can even cause spinal injuries. Once someone is buried under the soil it is very difficult to quickly remove that person, even if only part of someone's body is buried. The pressure of the soil can prevent circulation, which if sustained long enough, can cause death. The pressure of the soil on someone's chest can also affect someone's breathing, causing suffocation.

The importance of following safety measures in this area cannot be understated, as it is key to preventing injury and death. People injured can incur substantial costs from medical bills and lost wages, in addition to pain and suffering. Families of deceased loved ones suffer the loss of support and companionship. If you or a loved one has been injured because of workplace OSHA violation, a Hartford injury attorney can help you pursue the compensation needed for recovery.