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Restoring Dignity & Control After An Injury 

What risks do trenches pose to construction workers?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

Most construction sites will require at least one trench, if not more. These are essential for laying cables and pipes for power, communications, water, sewage and gas.

Most trenching is accident-free, but each year, a considerable number of workers are not so lucky and are injured or killed while working on or in a trench. Here are some of the reasons that can happen:

The trench collapses

If you dig a hole in the ground, it is only natural that the earth around it will want to fall into that hole. Those in charge must ensure the trench is stable before allowing anyone in it. They must ensure appropriate reinforcement, and they can only do this if they understand the area they are working in. Some soils are more stable than others, and some sites are more prone to an influx of water. 

There should also be restrictions to how close heavy machinery can get to avoid its weight collapsing the earth around the trench.

Someone or something falls into the trench

Site supervisors must ensure the trench opening is well-marked and perhaps cordoned off so no one can accidentally walk or drive into it. They must also think carefully about placing anything uphill of a trench, especially something that could roll in if knocked, such as cable spools.

Existing hazards inside the trench

There may already be pipes and cables where a trench is to be sited. Employers must ensure they map these and take precautions, such as turning off the power source to prevent problems if someone accidentally hits something when excavating the trench. They must also risk assess for any noxious gasses or chemicals that could escape from the disturbed soil.

If you suffer harm while working in or around a construction trench, you’ll need to learn more about your compensation options.

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