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    Trench Collapses, Excavation Accidents and How to Prevent Them

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHAs) regulations regarding trenching and excavations have made getting rid of potential and actual trench and excavation hazards on construction sites a top priority. Trench collapses and subsequent cave-ins pose a great risk to trench workers’ lives. That said, it is important for workers to know and understand their rights under the law.

    Some typical ways to prevent cave-ins include:

    • Sloping or benching trench walls
    • Shoring trench walls with supports
    • Shielding trench walls with trench boxes

    Employers should also provide safe ways to enter and exit. Additionally, all workers should be on constant lookout for hazardous materials or leaks. And if there’s ever any question or concern, NEVER enter a trench unless and until it has been properly inspected.

    There are other hazards related to trenching and excavations that workers need to know about before beginning any construction project. For instance, the atmosphere itself may be a health hazard for workers. OSHA requires testing for all excavations that are more than four feet deep, as well as in situations where oxygen levels may be low or other hazardous atmospheric conditions may exist. If this safety step is skipped, workers could be exposed to toxic chemicals or even worse — they could suffocate.

    Further, heavy machines, trucks, backhoes, etc. are typically used on excavation and trenching sites. Employers have an obligation to ensure all workers on the project know how to properly use such equipment, as improper use could result in serious and severe injuries.

    If you have been injured at work in Pennsylvania, a Lancaster workplace accident attorney can help you with your workers’ comp claims and review the circumstances surrounding the trench collapse and/or excavation accident. as well as advise on other potential legal claims you may have. We understand the laws and strategies needed for such cases and will use that to help you establish your claim.

    Is There a Way to Prevent Trench and Excavation Accidents?

    Construction site managers and workers can maximize their safety by ensuring the following has occurred:

    • Ensure proper protection is in place. To prevent workers from being injured in trenching and excavation incidents, it is imperative to have appropriate protective systems in place. As noted above, when such systems do not exist, workers are at a greater risk for injuries such as being crushed, toxic exposure and suffocation.
    • Make sure the site is prepared appropriately. Excavations areas should be inspected prior to any work being done, as well as ongoing during the project. Someone with adequate competence and training in soil analysis should be used when preparing the worksite.
    • Put equipment and work materials in their proper place. Excavation materials and work-related equipment can cause severe injuries to workers if they are put too close to the trench. That said, employers should be sure that all work materials and equipment are placed at least two feet away.
    • All access and exit areas should be made as safe as possible. Site workers typically use ramps and other equipment to access and exit trenches. When such equipment is not placed in an appropriate area or is left unmaintained, workers may fall and be subjected to all types of serious injuries.

    Learn More About Workers’ Comp Claims From a Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney

    If you have been injured at work because of a trench or excavation accident, let a Lancaster workplace accident attorney at Vanasse Law LLC help you with your claim. You can contact us for a same-day response and a free consultation.