In Pennsylvania, many construction operations require trenching and excavation, and construction workers who are involved in these projects must be aware of these dangers. For example, even one cave-in could result in suffocation and death. However, safety training and protective systems could help to reduce or eliminate accidents involving trenching and excavation.
In the first place, collapsing trenches at the workplace are to blame for hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths annually. Further, because cave-ins pose a greater risk than other excavation-related accidents, construction workers should avoid entering unprotected trenches that are five feet deep or more. Unless excavation is done in an area consisting of stable rock, trenches should be stabilized with protective systems.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all construction worksites where trenching is occurring to have the trenches inspected daily before employees are allowed to work in them. The individual selected to perform this task must be able to identify and immediately correct predictable and existing hazards, or anything that might make working conditions dangerous, unsanitary or hazardous for employees.
OSHA also requires that all excavations contain safe access and egress whereby construction crews can quickly and safely enter or exit trench excavations that are at least four feet deep. Safety devices such as ramps, steps and ladders must be placed within 25 feet of all the employees.
Construction workers who suffer an on-the-job injury are entitled to certain types of benefits via workers' compensation. Employees who file for these benefits but are denied might benefit through the advice of an attorney who may be able to explain the details of how to file for workers' compensation and who may also be able to provide legal advice about the employee's best options.