Nearly everyone has seen the signs to call a phone number before digging. This is because one of the biggest dangers when trenching or excavating an area is hitting underground gas, electric, or water lines. The potential for electrocution when digging in a construction site is serious. Yet, there are many other dangers associated with digging that those involved in construction should know. One of the biggest threat from trenching involves cave-ins. The Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law have seen the devastating impact excavation accidents have on individuals and families.
Safety Tips When Trenching and Excavating a Construction Area
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ranks cave-ins as the single greatest risk to construction workers excavating a worksite. Other serious hazards include falls, heavy equipment accidents, exposure to dangerous gasses, and falling loads. The following tips for excavation and trenching safety will prevent many such accidents.
- There should be daily inspections by a competent person who understands the dangers and knows how to protect workers. This person must also have the authority to make prompt changes as needed.
- Use protective systems; sloping trench walls away from the cut, shoring the walls with trench boxes, or installing supports when possible even if not required by law. If the depth is greater than five feet, OSHA requires a protective system unless the walls are solid stone. Regardless of the composition, trenches more than 20 feet in depth require protective systems.
- When working in trenches more than four feet deep, OSHA requires that ladders, steps, or ramps are within 25 feet of any workers.
- Prevent heavy equipment from nearing the edges of a trench. Ideally, the trench should be marked with yellow or other reflective tape to alert equipment operators to the hazard.
- Do not stack heavy materials near the edges of a trench.
- Know the exact location of underground utilities.
- Inspect trenches after each rainstorm. The heavier the storm, the more likely running water may erode and undermine the integrity of trench walls. Water should seep into the soil, not run off in a stream. If it is streaming, find out where it is going because the surface above may be undermined and become a serious hazard.
- Do not work in the trench where loads are passing overhead.
- Conduct regular tests for dangerous fumes and gasses; check that oxygen levels remain adequate.
- Use common sense and protect yourself. Do not enter a trench if you believe it to be unsafe. Make your concerns known to a supervisor.
Each year, dozens of fatalities and hundreds of serious accidents result from failing to adhere to these safety practices. Most are preventable and the result of employers ignoring OSHA rules. Injured workers may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits through their employer. In some cases, victims may recover additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Victims of Excavation Accidents
The Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law help trenching and excavation accident victims recover damages. We fight on your behalf to recover the maximum award possible. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call 215-426-4493. Our offices are conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, allowing us to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.