Trenching and Excavation Accidents

Trench accidents pose a high risk of danger to workers on a construction site, even if a trench is not very deep.  Routinely, backhoes and excavators are used to dig trenches in order to bury electrical wires, sewers, footings, or to gain access to existing underground structures.  However, if the proper safety measures are not taken, serious injuries or even death can occur.

The most common type of trench or excavation accident is a cave-in or collapse.  A cave-in can occur for a number of reasons, including machinery that is moved too close to the edge of an excavation site, improper shoring or bracing, locating back fill material too close to the excavation site, defective reinforcements, or a rainstorm.  When a cave-in happens, a worker can be buried or crushed.

Other common types of trench accidents include workers falling into a trench if it is left unguarded or improperly shored, heavy machinery falling into a trench injuring workers in the trench or the operator of the machinery, and workers making contact with underground gas and electrical lines that aren’t accurately located.  Serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, suffocation, nerve damage, bone fractures, and amputation can happen as a result.

Many trench accidents are preventable if proper safety inspections and proactive steps are taken.  Before digging, it is important that proper assessments of the ground’s strength are completed.  Regular testing for hazardous fumes, gases, and low oxygen should be done for trenches that are more than four feet deep.  Workers should wear visible, protective clothing.  Excavated soil and heavy equipment should be kept at least two feet from a trench.

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