Most of us give little consideration to trenches. In fact, for many of us, the word "trench" conjures up images of World War I battlefields. In reality, trenches and other excavation work are essential to forming the foundations for many homes and businesses. Trenches are often dug into the ground around the perimeters of soon-to-be-built structures in order to facilitate the pouring of concrete and other foundational material.
Unfortunately, trenches also provide confined spaces for construction workers who must work in or around them on a daily basis. Because trenches are dug into the earth, workers inside them are vulnerable to the walls of the trench collapsing and caving in on them. Additionally, the tight confines of some trenches may promote asphyxiation as a result of a lack of oxygen. These tight spaces can also be a place where toxic fumes accumulate. There is also an ever-present danger of drowning in trenches where water is present.
Because of the laundry list of potential hazards caused by digging into the earth, excavation workers face a fatality rate which is 112 percent higher than other workers engaged in general construction.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized the potential hazards of trenches and other excavation work. OSHA has set forth a comprehensive set of rules which address the unique health hazards facing workers in those conditions.
Maryland construction workers injured while laboring in trenches need to know that workers' compensation may be able to help. If you have suffered an injury as a result of your work you may be eligible to receive partial wage replacement payments and other health benefits. You may even be able to receive vocational retraining if your injury prevents you from returning to work in your previous capacity. A Maryland workers compensation attorney can assist you in pursuing those benefits.
It's also important to know that you may not receive all of the benefits that you believe you are entitled to. Your attorney can help you appeal any denial of your claims. This can be particularly beneficial in cases where your doctor wants you to have additional medical treatments which may not have been covered by your workers' compensation benefits.