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How Deadly Are Trench Collapses?

While most people understand that construction sites are among the most dangerous work environments, they might not realize where the hazards actually come from. A significant portion of work accidents and construction fatalities are the result of falls from height – falling from a ladder, scaffold collapse or poorly secured railings. However, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), two workers are killed every month in trench collapses.

A trench is a type of excavation used for numerous purposes in construction and civil engineering. Often deeper than they are wide, these excavations are used to hide obstructive infrastructure such as utility mains, telephone lines or pipeline transport. Unfortunately, these depressions can often be unstable – collapsing and killing workers who don’t exercise caution.

OSHA provides numerous examples of protective systems that should be in place in and around construction trenches, including:

  • Benching: This is a method of preventing cave-ins by excavating the sides of a trench to form one or a series of levels or steps to the bottom.
  • Sloping: This method involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
  • Shoring: This method involves installing supports – often aluminum hydraulic – to shore up the trench walls and prevent soil movement.
  • Shielding: This method involves the use of trench boxes and other types of supports to prevent cave-ins.

Construction workers must take steps to protect themselves in all aspects of their environment. From ladder falls to soil cave-ins, a worksite can be dangerous – and deadly. If you have lost a loved one in a construction accident, schedule a free consultation with an attorney to learn more about your legal options.

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