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OSHA to Increase Trenching Inspections and Enforcement

On October 2, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated the National Emphasis Program (NEP) to focus on trenching and excavation collapses in response to a recent spike in trenching fatalities.

NEPs are temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries and have covered issues such as combustible dust, machinery, lead, and hexavalent chromium in the past. NEPs typically develop when an outbreak or occurrence takes place and OSHA determines resources must be dedicated to combat the occurrence.

The emphasis program on trenching and excavation began on October 1, 2018, with a three-month period of education and prevention outreach. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, “OSHA will concentrate the full force of enforcement and compliance assistance resources to help ensure that employers are addressing these serious hazards.”

Employers can expect OSHA will continue to respond complaints, referrals, hospitalizations, and fatalities during the three-month outreach period. Enforcement will be begin after the outreach period and remain in effect until OSHA cancels the NEP.

Author’s note: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. Regulations and laws may vary depending on your location. Consult with a licensed attorney in your area if you wish to obtain legal advice and/or counsel for a particular legal issue.