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Improving safety during trenching and excavation work

Digging trenches and excavating work sites are two of the most hazardous tasks for construction workers. Proper planning and strict adherence to safety protocols are crucial to help prevent accidents. Cave-ins are usually the chief concern of construction crews performing trenching or excavation work. However, there is also risk of flooding, toxic fume inhalation and oxygen depletion when working in close confinement.

Preparing the site

It’s impossible to fully understand underground conditions until trenching work has begun, and even the most meticulously planned excavation work can turn out to be unstable. However, conducting surveys before digging commences can test soil and identify the positions of underground lines and pipes. Health and safety experts may suggest additional precautions be taken to prevent water from accumulating or toxic fumes from building up. Planners should also ensure that workers are able to escape in an emergency situation.

During excavation

Once trenching work is underway, regular inspections should be made to ensure that containment systems put into place are adequate and that emergency exits are clear. The surfaces of slopes and ladders should not be slippery, and excavated soil should be placed in small piles several feet away from the work area. Trench boxes or other retaining devices can be used to extend trenches vertically and prevent cave-ins or dangerous spills.

Workers who perform excavation work or other hazardous duties have a right to expect all reasonable steps to be taken to ensure their safety. Notwithstanding, no amount of preparation or oversight can eliminate all workplace accidents. Construction workers injured on the job will generally file a claim under the state’s workers’ compensation program. A workers’ compensation attorney can help to ensure that the injured worker gets the payments they deserve.