Construction work in North Carolina and in other states involves numerous hazards. That’s the nature of the job. Hopefully, though, your employer takes all possible precautions to make your work zone as accident-proof as possible. For your part, you heed the safety rules, are properly trained and use the gear you need to protect yourself from getting hurt.
Things can still go wrong unexpectedly. Workers can be seriously injured or even lose their lives at a construction worksite. There is always the possibility of getting burned or shocked by electrical equipment, falling from heights like roofs, scaffolds or ladders, getting hit by construction materials accidentally dropped from heights, tripping over electrical cords or being injured when operating heavy equipment or machinery.
There are also other significant dangers of construction work. One of them involves trenching and excavation.
If a trench or excavation collapses on you, you can quickly be buried and unable to breathe. Such an accident can occur in an instant. One industry expert cautioned, “Cave-ins happen in a fraction of a second. You turn around and it’s on you.” Entering an unstable trench or excavation is just too risky for anyone to do. The website for Safety and Health Magazine points out that, “The fatality rate for excavation work is 112 percent higher than the rate for general construction, OSHA data shows.”
What OSHA recommends to keep you safe while working in trenches and excavations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations governing working conditions in trenches and excavations at construction worksites.
- OSHA stipulates “protective systems” for trenches whose depth is five feet or greater.
- OSHA also mandates having a safe means to enter and exit excavations of four feet depth or more. These means include ramps, ladders and steps and should be situated within 25 feet of all workers.
- There should be a person knowledgeable about OSHA regulations and safe trenching and excavating procedures doing the planning for those operations.
If you are injured in a trenching or excavating cave-in, you might want to learn more about your potential next steps.