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A look at how to combat construction site trench collapses

South Carolina workers may be interested in some information about safety issues when digging trenches. Failure to adhere to these safety standards could lead to serious consequences.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a cubic yard of dirt can weigh over 1.5 tons. For workers who dig trenches, this poses a serious danger of suffocation or crushing if the proper safety measures are not employed. OSHA says that while these dangers are entirely preventable, an average of around 35 workers die every year due to a trench collapse.

In order to combat these dangers, OSHA recommends that safety precautions begin long before digging starts. This includes properly training the workers, evaluating the soil for stability and having an expert determine the best protection system for the workers prior to excavation. An emergency plan should be put in place before work begins as well. During the job, daily inspections should be performed to ensure ongoing onsite safety. Ladders should always be within a certain distance from workers, and vehicles should be kept away from the trench excavation site.

In addition to these precautions, workers should be instructed not to enter any trench that has not been protected, no matter how quickly they plan to leave. The workers should also alert their supervisor if there are any signs that the trench has any issues.

When these recommended safety precautions are not followed, it creates an unsafe working environment. If an employee is injured due to an on-the-job accident, they may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. An attorney who deals with workplace accidents may be able to help the employee file a claim for these benefits or bring further legal action in some cases of employer negligence.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Preventing Worker Deaths from Trench Cave-ins," Accessed April 27, 2015

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