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Minimizing hazards during excavation and trenching work

Many Louisianans work in jobs in which they are required to complete excavation and trenching work. Working in trenches and excavation can be dangerous. There are several hazards that workers may face and certain things that may heighten the risk of a work-related injury during excavation and trenching.

One of the most dangerous types of injury accidents in trenching work is a cave-in. Cave-ins can crush and suffocate workers who are trapped. Other hazards may include drowning if a trench fills with water, electrocution if workers hit buried cables, asphyxiation and inhalation injuries if workers are exposed to fumes.

Trench work is especially dangerous if there is no protective system in place to shore up the trench walls. Employers are required to have such systems installed, and workers should not work in trenches until they are in place. Problems can also happen if trenches are not inspected every day. Things such as rain can make the soil unstable. Inspections of both the trenches and their protective systems should be conducted by a person who has training in what to look for. Another common hazard is when piles of soil are placed too close to a trench, as the pile may cause a cave-in. Finally, workers need to have a way to safely enter and exit a trench to minimize the danger of falls.

If a construction or excavation worker is injured while working in a trench, they may suffer serious and disabling conditions as a result. Employers are required to participate in the workers' compensation program and carry workers' compensation insurance to protect their employees. An injured worker may file a claim for benefits with their employer and their employer's insurance carrier. They may want to get help from a workers' compensation lawyer for help in trying to get all of the benefits to which they should be entitled.

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