Statistics show that falls are the most common source of work-related injuries for construction workers. However, that still leaves a multitude of ways workers could suffer injuries on the job. For instance, an unsafe trench could collapse and result in serious injuries or death.
Before an employer lets anyone into a trench, it must first be prepared. There must be safe entry and exit points. All materials need to be no less than 2 feet from the edge of the trench. Protective systems also need to be put in place to keep workers safe while in the trench. An employer can put in a shoring trench wall with supports, a shielding trench wall with trench boxes, or bench or sloping trench walls. The point is to make sure it does not collapse or cave in while workers are in the trench.
Another employer responsibility is to continuously inspect the trench for the duration of the work to be done in it. Standing water and other environmental factors could jeopardize its stability and safety, which would make it too hazardous for workers to enter. In fact, no one should enter the trench unless and until the specified competent person inspects and approves it for use.
If an employer allows a worker to go into an unsafe trench, the risk of injuries increases exponentially. However, even when a trench is safe, injuries could occur. Regardless of the condition of the trench at the time, a Pennsylvania worker who suffers injuries while on the job may receive benefits through the workers’ compensation system to cover medical and medical-related expenses associated with the injuries and help with the loss of income. Other benefits may also be available depending on the circumstances.