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Reducing the risks for trench workers

When it comes to the construction industry in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, trenching is considered to be one of the most dangerous tasks. Those who are involved in trenching accidents are at risk of getting crushed under the weight of the dirt, which can weigh up to 3,000 pounds per cubic yard. In 2016, 23 workers were killed in trench collapses while another 12 reported injuries.

There are three main reasons why trenching is often more dangerous than it needs to be. First, many of the workers are not properly trained to work in such a dangerous area. Second, some contractors and subcontractors may cut corners to finish a project on time while still staying within budget. As part of this, supervisor and manager bonuses are often tied into hitting time and cost goals, meaning some may be willing to overlook certain safety procedures. Finally, the company could have a careless safety culture, meaning employee safety is simply not a priority.

Improving safety when it comes to trenching and other construction projects could be as simple as utilizing the OSHA guidelines, which have minimum safety standards. Further, companies should give employees the ability to stop work and report potentially hazardous conditions.

Those who work in the construction industry are particularly at risk for suffering serious injuries due to the nature of the job. Although there should be safety standards in place, strict deadlines and project costs could cause some employees to cut corners, potentially putting them at further risk for injury. If a worker does suffer an injury while on the clock, he or she may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. At the very minimum, these benefits should cover medical costs. An attorney may determine if the employee is eligible to seek additional compensatory costs, such as a portion of the wages the employee would have earned if not injured.

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