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Danger! Trenching and Excavation Construction Accidents

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of fatalities and injuries for workers in America, according to postings by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction sites require heavy machinery that often increases the potential risk of injuries among workers. One such hazardous construction site involves trenches and excavations. Through trenching and excavation, construction workers, professional engineers, and city managers can install or replace pipes and sewer systems deep within the ground. Trenching also allows for the repairs of underground work and the preparation of soils for necessary building. Although trenching and excavating is necessary, it also creates many hazards for the employees working on the sites. Heavy machinery, deep vertical trenches, and the risk of cave-ins all increase the potential dangers for workers.

The most common accidents that occur at excavated construction sites include cave-ins and falling into trenched areas, but other hazards occur and cause injuries. Heavy machinery also increases the danger of cave-ins due to the added pressure of the machinery to the top layers of soil at the site. Another potential hazard, asphyxiation, due to cave-ins, also causes workers’ injuries and deaths. At times, excavators may be unaware of what lays below the surface—poisonous gases seeping underground through broken pipes may create unnecessary dangers for individuals in the area.

To help prevent such accidents from occurring, construction employees are required to have the proper safety equipment and should be well informed of the dangers as to how to prevent trenching accidents. Individual safety equipment includes hard hats, steel-toed boots, and gloves, but accidents normally surpass the safety equipment worn by individual men and women. Therefore, safety regulations increase as the depth of the trench exceeds five feet, thereby increasing the potential danger. In this situation, a professional engineer approves and ensures that the proper safety precautions are installed or practiced.

Workers must be fully aware of their surroundings and the materials with which they work, including the loose soils likely to cause cave-ins. Different techniques exist in order to prevent against cave-ins from different types of soils. Benching and sloping techniques involve creating steps, or an incline, to help prevent a cave-in for workers in the trench. On the other hand, shoring or shielding techniques require an installation of protective equipment from box frames or steel hydraulic systems in order to prevent a disruption of the soil. Safety equipment, such as ramps, pulleys, and ladders are all necessary for deep excavation work, and must be within 25 feet from the actual trench. A daily inspection of the walls, the floor, and the protection systems in place may also help to prevent accidents.

Although safety precautions are necessary, accidents still occur. If you or a loved one were injured at a construction trenching and excavating site in California, and need legal advice, contact Alvandi Law Group. Our workers compensation law firm in Los Angeles will help you seek financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. For more information or a free consultation, please call (800) 980-6905.

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