Trenches are one of many hazards to be aware of if working on a construction site in Maryland. Gravity dictates that when you cut a trench into the ground, the surrounding earth wants to fall in and fill it. If you are inside when that happens, the consequences could be catastrophic.
All construction employers must conduct continuing risk assessments to keep their workers safe. External factors such as weather, flooding and vibrations from heavy machinery can all destabilize a trench that was risk assessed as safe just days or hours earlier.
Trench collapse is not the only risk to be wary of
A trench collapse or cave-in might be the most daunting and obvious hazard. However, there are other risks that could cause serious injury, including:
- Rupturing cables or pipes while excavating it: Before an employer asks you to start digging, they need to know and inform you where all power cables, water lines and gas pipes lie. They may also need to cut some of these supplies.
- Slip-and-fall accidents: Any opening in the ground presents a danger. Employers must ensure adequate barriers and signage to prevent the risk of anyone accidentally stepping or driving into it.
- Being struck by falling objects: The barriers around the top will also reduce the likelihood of someone kicking or dropping rocks, tools or other items on top of you. Extra measures may be needed if the trench lies on a hill, as objects could roll down from far above.
Even if you escape a trench accident with minor injuries, you may still need time off work and medical treatment. Other accidents could have much more severe consequences. Understanding how to claim workers’ compensation will be crucial to ensure the accident does not leave you out of pocket.