Minnesota workers in excavation and trenching are employed in one of the more dangerous subfields of the construction profession. Dangers in excavation and trenching include cave-ins, trench collapses, hazardous atmospheres, falling loads, falls and incidents with mobile equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a fact sheet that has a number of safety tips for people who work in this field.
Trenches that are not made in stable rock and that are more than five feet deep must be protected. Protective systems are made in different ways depending on the soil, weather, climate and more. A competent person who is able to identify hazards and who is in a position to correct those hazards must inspect the trench daily. There must be safe access into and out of the trench.
There are a number of other general rules that must be observed. People should not work under raised loads. Trenches must be inspected at the beginning of shifts and after a rainstorm. Surcharge loads must be at least 2 feet from the trench’s edge, and trenches must be tested for toxic gases, hazardous fumes and low oxygen.
Despite these precautions, workers may still be injured in trenches or excavations. An accident may be the fault of other workers or equipment, or it may even be carelessness on the part of the worker. However, the worker may still be eligible for workers’ compensation even if their employer says they are not. Workers may not understand their rights to file for compensation, and employers might discourage them from doing so. A worker who is unsure of their rights in this area might want to consult an attorney to discuss how they might move forward with a claim. The compensation might cover both medical costs and some lost wages.