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Dangers of trenching and excavation projects

| Jan 27, 2016 | Workers' Compensation |

New York jobs involving trenching can be extremely dangerous in spite of the best safety precautions. One of the most serious hazards is that of a cave-in, but the activity in a confined space can also expose a worker to breathing dangers such as inhaling toxic materials, being asphyxiated, or drowning. There is also the risk of workers coming into contact with utility lines, which could lead to explosions or electrocution.

Protective measures are particularly important for minimizing the risk of work-related injuries on trenching jobs. Protective systems that are consistent with OSHA standards are important, and planning is crucial. It is necessary to make contact with utility companies to ensure that the locations of underground pipes and lines are identified in advance of any digging. It is also necessary to test air conditions in a trench to ensure that sufficient oxygen is available. When oxygen levels could be questionable, workers need to be outfitted with appropriate respiratory equipment. It is also important to identify changes in the project setting after adverse weather events such as rain.

A failure to use proper safety mechanisms increases the risk of worker injuries. Workers should play an active role in monitoring their environment for safety problems, especially when lives could be jeopardized. However, a trenching contractor bears responsibility for training workers to ensure that such issues are identified. A culture of cooperation can make a huge difference in safety conditions for all parties on a job.

An individual could be hurt because of a clear safety violation, or an injury could result because of unanticipated situations such as a sudden change in weather. In either case, medical care for an injury is typically paid for through the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. The assistance of an attorney may be advisable if a claim for benefits is disputed or denied.

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