Understanding Trench Safety

Workers who perform their jobs in trenches are at serious risk of personal harm. Fortunately, years of innovation in the industry has resulted in safety techniques and technological advancements to reinforce safety and protect workers. The implementation of proven standards has become basic practice to reduce hazards to workers who perform jobs that involve excavation or trenching.

A trench, which is a long and narrow man-made cavity in the earth’s surface that measures no more than 15 feet wide, allows access for workers to install or make repairs to underground equipment. The digging of these trenches, as well as the tasks involved to satisfy the underground objective, can be dangerous work. For that reason, industry safety experts developed guidelines to ensure that safety precautions dictate the approach throughout the project.

Trench Safety Standards

Safety experts have created guidelines to keep trenches structurally sound and to keep workers safe. The suggested guidelines involve personal safety equipment, structural reinforcements, and strategic safety measures and practices. Below are some of the recommendations for trench safety:

Avoid unprotected trenches: Do not enter a trench that is unprotected. Likewise, managers should never require workers to perform job duties without a proper protective system in place.

Utilize protective systems: A protective system should be in place for any trench deeper than five feet. Trenches deeper than 20 feet require a registered professional engineer to evaluate the trench and implement a protective system based on established engineering recommendations.

Install an appropriate protective system: Determine which system, such as sloping the trench opening, shielding with walls to protect workers, or shoring with mechanical reinforcements to hold trench walls apart, will be best to protect workers against a cave-in accident.

Perform inspections: The structural integrity of the trench and the stability of the protection system should be inspected daily. A safety manager should be on site to monitor any conditions that might threaten the jobsite or worker safety.

Provide egress: Egress, or a way of exiting the trench, such as a ladder, must be available within 25 feet of all workers.

Provide fall protection: All personnel are required to use fall protection gear near trenches deeper than six feet.

Consider surrounding dangers: Keep trench openings clear of any equipment that could present a fall hazard. Keep surcharge loads and spoilage piles at least two feet away from the trench’s edges. Locate trenches away from underground utilities and high-voltage wires.

Remain vigilant: Despite the industry push to create safe work environments, accidents still happen. Cave-in accidents kill dozens of trench workers each year, and hundreds more are injured. Research and recommendations for safety practices only work if they are implemented.

Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Workers Injured in Trenches

If you were injured while working in a trench, contact the Bucks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. today. We will fight to secure the benefits that will help you recover after a work accident. Contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962 to schedule a free case evaluation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.