Construction workers must always place safety first on the worksite. Some construction environments are inherently more dangerous than others. Constructing tunnels can very dangerous, and therefore there are many standards in place in order to help avoid potential accidents.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many rules and procedures in place that employers must follow when employees are performing tunnel construction activities. If these procedures are not followed, and an injury occurs on the job, the employer could bear some liability for the accident – even if the employee was partially at fault.
OSHA and Tunneling Standards
OSHA guidelines for tunnel construction were first established in 1971, and over time the rules have been updated to reflect newer technology and industry best practices. In general, OSHA’s authority extends to all private sector employers with one or more employees, and also civilian employees in federal agencies. States can also administer their own occupational safety and health programs, in addition to federal OSHA standards.
OSHA requires strict training requirements for employees involved in tunnel construction. They must be able to:
- Monitor the air
- Understand communication methods
- Be able to manage flood control
- Have knowledge about relevant personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Understand emergency procedures
- Carry out check-in and check-out procedures
- Safely manage explosives
- Have knowledge about fire prevention
- Be able to operate the relevant mechanical equipment
Putting OSHA Standards into Practice
Check-in and check-out procedures are common sense procedures that must be performed in the underground environment, in order to know at all times which employees are inside the tunnel and which are outside. This is in case of an emergency. OSHA standards also state that there should be one person designated to be in charge of this procedure at every site.
Additionally, the employer must ensure safe access and egress from all areas of a tunnel. If an area is restricted, proper signage must be posted so that no one is permitted into the area. Additionally, all portal openings must be guarded by shoring and fencing to ensure ground support and reduce the possibility of the tunnel caving in.
The Competent Person, Fire and Air Standards
OSHA standards designate that a “competent person” must be on site at all times who is familiar with all of the OSHA standards. This person is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings. Additionally, this person must have authorization to take prompt corrective measures to stop or eliminate hazards.
For fire prevention, OSHA standards state that gasoline must not be underground at any time. Other flammables such as oil, grease, and diesel fuel must be stored according to strict standards.
In addition, proper ventilation must exist so that fresh air can be supplied to all underground work areas. Other monitoring procedures to ensure air quality must be in place at all times.
Despite all of these and additional strict standards, accidents on the worksite can and do still occur.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Can Assist If You Have Been Hurt While Working in Tunnel Construction
If you or a loved one has been injured at work on a construction site, you may be entitled to a recovery from your employer in addition to any other type of insurance award. A Philadelphia construction accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can assess your case with a free consultation. Contact us online or call 215-569-8488. We have offices in Philadelphia, Media, and Abington, and serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and throughout Pennsylvania in addition to Delaware and New Jersey.