Although South Carolina workers in trenching and excavation jobs may be aware of the dangers that they face, it is good to review safety standards periodically to ensure that the best practices are in play on an ongoing basis. The major areas contributing to serious injuries in these jobs include access problems, spoil management, inadequate inspection and problems with protective systems. Although OSHA requires that proper protective measures be implemented, it is up to employers to manage these issues on a day-to-day basis.
Access problems can create dangers in entering or leaving a work area. For example, ladder placement is important because instability could cause a fall. Slippery surfaces can create risks as well. Inconsistencies in sizing of two-part access equipment could cause a trip or fall. When earthen ramps are an issue, it is important to ensure that workers can remain upright when using them. Excavated materials, also known as spoils, must be carefully placed to ensure that they don’t fall back into an area while workers are in place. Generally, a 2-foot distance between spoils or equipment and the edge of an excavation area is required.
Safety inspections of an excavation site can minimize the risk of an injury, especially after adverse weather, seismic or vehicle activity or other issues that could cause materials to come loose. A daily inspection should precede any work. Additional inspections may be necessary based on the determinations of a site’s safety officer. Protective equipment is crucial for those at risk of asphyxiation or of breathing dangerous materials. Other protective equipment and systems should be used consistently based on the needs of the site in question.
Workplace injuries continue to happen regardless of safety efforts on a construction job. Injured victims may want the assistance of an attorney in pursuing benefits under the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.