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OSHA safety for trenches and excavations

New York construction workers should know the safety guidelines established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for trenching and excavation operations. According to OSHA, an excavation is any man-made cavity, depression or cut in the earth created by the removal of the earth. A trench is a subterranean excavation that is deeper underground than it is wide and is no more than 15 feet wide.

The type of accident that is most likely to cause a worker fatality during an excavation is a cave-in. Each year multiple fatalities and hundreds of injuries occur as a result of trench collapses. Additional risks include dangerous atmospheres, falls, falling loads and accidents caused by mobile equipment.

Protective systems are required to create trenches that are five feet deep or more unless the excavation is composed of stable rock. For trenches that are 20 feet deep or more, the protective system has to be designed by a registered professional engineer or must be constructed based on formulated data calculated or approved by a registered professional engineer.

The creation of a protective system can be complicated due to elements that must be considered, such as the depth of cut, the amount of water in the soil, the type of soil, other construction operations taking place nearby, the weight of other materials that are to be used in the trench, and any changes to the site as a result of the weather. The different kinds of protective systems include sloping, shielding and shoring.

Accidents at construction sites can result in a wide range of injuries as well as death. A personal injury attorney will work to verify which OSHA violations contributed to the unsafe working conditions. The attorney will work to obtain adequate financial compensation for a client's medical expenses and lost wages.

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