According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trenching violations and excavation errors were a big problem in 2019. The agency hopes that 2020 will be better and has begun initiatives designed to provide workers (and their employers) with a better understanding of the need for safety measures.
With that in mind, let’s talk about trenching safety and how to prevent collapses and other tragic accidents. Here are some tips to remember:
- Inspections have to be done daily. Weather conditions, weight and time can all affect the stability of a trench, and those things change daily. Nobody should ever start work in an existing trench until the appropriate person has conducted a thorough inspection of the site and all protective systems.
- Protective systems are often required. If a trench goes five feet deep or deeper, protective systems must be used to prevent collapses. Once a trench hits 20 feet in depth, an engineer has to be involved in designing the protective system.
- Angles are important. Trench walls should always be cut at an angle that slopes away from the hole for maximum stability. In addition, it’s important to keep excavated soil and debris from the trench at least two feet away from the edges.
- Construction equipment needs to be managed carefully. Nothing will cause a trench to collapse faster than the vibration of a piece of large equipment that’s too close to the edge.
- High-visibility clothing can save lives. Workers can disappear under a sudden slide of dirt and debris inside a trench. When that happens, time is of the essence during a rescue attempt. High-visibility clothing makes it easier to spot a worker who is mostly buried.
If your loved one was injured or killed in a trench collapse, you have the right to seek compensation. Find out how an experienced attorney can help get what you are due.