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OSHA standards address the dangers of trench collapse

As a construction worker in Maryland, you may face a number of hazards that are rare or unheard of in other professions. Our legal team at McGowan & Cecil, LLC, has often assisted clients who suffered from accidents that happened in the course of their job duties on the construction site.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, trench collapses cause two construction fatalities a month. These events are so catastrophic because the weight of an average cubic yard of soil weighs as much as a vehicle and could crush you quickly.

At your job site, if you are working in a man-made excavation that is deeper than five feet, a protective system should be in place to keep it from caving in and killing you. This may be one of the following:

  •          Sloping
  •          Shoring
  •          Benching
  •          Shielding

If the trench is more than 20 feet deep, the system that keeps it from collapsing should either be designed or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Even if you are in a safe trench, there are factors that could put you in danger. For example, loads or materials that are raised or suspended over the trench could fall on you, or heavy equipment too close to the edge could fall in or cause a collapse. Hazardous fumes and underground utilities could also cause a serious or fatal injury. You must have a safe way of entering and exiting the trench, as well, such as a ramp or ladder. More information about hazards on construction sites is available on our webpage.

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