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Safety precautions essential to prevent trench collapse

Workers who perform trenching and excavation work do hard work that many Connecticut residents would not be able to do due to the potential danger of the job and the nature of the work environment. Nonetheless, this is essential work, and it is imperative that those doing the work are able to do their jobs in a safe environment and avoid accidents at work.

Trenching and excavation are similar endeavors, with trenching typically occurring in a narrower man-made cut than an excavation. Both carry the possibility of cave-ins, and it is essential for workers' safety that there are adequate protections in place to protect workers from being at the wrong end of falling soil. For example, one cubic yard of soil can cause major damage, potentially weighing as much as a car. Additionally, workers must be protected from falling debris or other equipment that could fall and put workers at risk of injury.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent dangerous work accidents for those workers who are performing trench and excavation work. To prevent cave-ins, OSHA typically requires employers to ensure that the sides of an excavation are properly sloped and benched, as well as effectively supported.

OSHA also requires that employers place a shield between the sides of the work area and the excavation. Simple protective systems may be necessary, or certain excavations may require more complex designs to properly support workers.

If essential safety precautions have not been followed and a trench collapse occurs, it may be a sign of employer negligence. An injured worker or his or her family may wish to seek the counsel of an attorney to discuss the possibility of obtaining workers' compensation benefits or other appropriate compensation. This could help the injured worker or the family members of the deceased worker collect benefits that could help cover expenses and damages related to the work incident.

Source: osha.gov, "Trenching and Excavation Safety," accessed Nov. 6, 2015

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