Construction workers in Louisiana and around the country are often required to perform dangerous tasks, and trenching and excavation work can be particularly dangerous according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Cave-ins pose the greatest threat to workers in trenches or other excavations according to OSHA, but falls, toxic working conditions and accidents involving earth moving equipment can also be fatal.
Workplace safety regulations call for the installation of protective systems for most trenches with a depth of five feet or more, and trenches of 20 feet or deeper require safety systems designed by registered engineers. Basic trench safety systems include sloped cutbacks that angle debris away from workers and hydraulic shoring, trench boxes and shielding designed to reduce the likelihood of a cave-in. OSHA says that trenches and their protective systems should be checked on a daily basis by competent individuals and needed repairs should be performed promptly.
Steps that construction companies can take to make trenching and excavation accidents less likely include keeping heavy equipment and surcharge loads away from trench edges, clearly identifying underground hazards such as utility cables or gas pipes and routinely testing air quality and oxygen levels in confined spaces. Water accumulation can greatly increase the risks of trenching work, and it is important that excavations be inspected carefully after even moderate rainfall according to OSHA.
Those who work in physically challenging fields like construction may be unable to earn a paycheck for prolonged periods after suffering a workplace injury or developing a work-related illness. Workers’ compensation benefits may provide injured workers with financial assistance until they are able to rejoin the workforce, and a lawyer might be able to help injured or sick workers with filing a claim and advocate on their behalf should their claims be contested or denied.