Digging a trench is one of the most dangerous things that a worker can do, often because it feels so safe. Workers often feel like the trench will hold up as they work, likely because it has held up for hours or days already. This can lead to a sort of indifferent attitude toward trench collapses.
Make no mistake, though: A trench can collapse at any moment. It often happens without warning. The soil can weigh thousands of pounds. It’s often impossible for a worker to get out in time and difficult for others on the scene to dig them out promptly.
Tips for working safely when digging a trench
The best defense is to know why these incidents happen and how to avoid them. Keep these tips in mind:
- If the trench is higher than a worker’s head, use a protective system.
- Never assume a trench is safe.
- Do not work in a trench in adverse weather conditions.
- Do not put materials or heavy machinery near the edge of the trench.
- Set up access points that are easily recognizable and that keep traffic in and out of the trench to those specific areas.
- Carry out periodic inspections, even if the trench shows no signs of deterioration.
- Use the right safety signs and notifications.
- Always know where the utility lines are.
These tips can help, and they also show how having a safety-focused mindset is the most important thing you can do.
If you have been injured in a collapse or a trenching accident, make sure you know what legal steps to take. You may need significant compensation. An experienced attorney can help.