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Why trenching and excavation is so dangerous for workers - III

In a series of ongoing posts, our blog has been examining how trenches are one of the single most dangerous locations for construction workers owing to the risks of collapses and the fact that a single cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as an automobile.

We've also been exploring some of the trenching and excavation requirements devised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers from this danger.

In today's post, the third in a series, we'll conclude our examination by taking a closer look at some of the different types of protective systems employed to keep workers safe.

To recap, OSHA standards state that trenches measuring five feet deep or more must be equipped with a protective system (unless made in solid rock), while trenches measuring less than five feet deep only require a protective system if deemed necessary by a "competent person."

If trenches measures 20 feet deep or more, however, a protective system designed by a professional engineer, or made in accordance with tabulated data prepared and/or approved by a professional engineer must be constructed.

Some of the common types of protective systems used in trenches include:

  • Sloping: A process whereby a trench wall is cut back at an angle that inclines away from the site of excavation.
  • Shoring: A process whereby aluminum hydraulic supports or similar systems are installed to prevent soil movement and thwart cave-ins.
  • Benching: A process whereby a trench wall is cut in such a manner as to form levels or stairs.
  • Shielding: A process whereby a reinforced trench box or similar system is installed to prevent soil movement and thwart cave-ins.

Here's hoping that the foregoing conversation has proven enlightening for construction workers who regularly perform trenching and excavation work. Indeed, it's imperative for them to understand that if they do suffer any sort of debilitating injuries in a cave-in or any other type of workplace accident that they have viable legal options for securing the necessary compensation.

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