If you work on construction sites, you are regularly surrounded by potential hazards. Trenches present particular problems.
You will be exposed to a risk of harm to a particularly significant degree under two specific circumstances.
When you are in it
If your boss sends you into a trench to perform some work, you’ll need to be sure that they have done all they can to eliminate inherent dangers, which could include:
- Dangers within the trench itself: For example, noxious gases or underground cables or pipes
- Dangers from the trench: Such as a risk of it collapsing due to inadequate support
- Dangers from above the trench: Caused by someone or something passing around the edge or even a poorly stacked roll of cable rolling down a hill from well above the trench. If you are inside when something falls, it could injure or kill you
When you are above it
Employers must mark trenches clearly to reduce the chance that you may accidentally fall in. They should also route paths (especially those used by heavy machinery) away from it, as the ground around the trench edge will be weak, and you do not want the ground to collapse underneath you and send you plummeting.
The dangers can change
An employer cannot just construct a trench, declare it safe and then expect you to work there day after day. They need to monitor it regularly and reassess its risks. The ground can move with time, and intense weather, including rain and frost, can also affect stability, as can other unseen things, like an underground water pipe being damaged nearby.
Construction accidents can be serious, so you’ll need legal help to understand how to claim workers’ compensation if you’re hurt due to a trench-related hazard.