When people talk about construction site risks, elevation is often a primary safety concern. Someone who does their job several stories above the ground could very easily end up hurt if they fall. Those working at lower locations could also be at risk if someone above them drops a tool or materials used for the project.
Falls and accidental contact with objects are both leading causes of fatal construction site injuries, but they are not the only elevation-related safety concerns that should be thoughtfully considered. Those working below grade in trenches are also at significant risk.
Cave-ins are a constant concern
Bare earth can move rapidly and with little warning, especially when the ground is wet. The movement of the soil can lead to a worker becoming trapped, suffering serious injuries or even dying. Companies trying to speed up construction or keep project costs low might try to avoid taking the necessary steps to keep cave-ins from happening.
There are multiple federal safety standards that apply to excavation and trenching at a construction site. Businesses need to carefully train their workers and make sure that the trenches have proper support. All it takes is a shortcut that eliminates the support for a trench for a cave-in to occur and possibly injure a worker. Employees at ground level could also cause cave-ins if they come too close to the edge of a trench while operating heavy machinery.
Falls and falling items are also a concern
Workers approaching a trench may not realize how close they are to the edge until the ground starts to shift. Someone at the ground level of a construction site could end up severely hurt if they fall into a trench. The workers in a trench could also suffer injuries if someone falls into the trench or drops items into the trench. Trenches can also be dangerous due to flash flood risks during times of inclement weather or electrical exposure if power supply installation is part of the project.
Like those hurt due to an elevation-related incident, those hurt in trenches could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Learning about common construction job risks may help workers more effectively protect themselves and assert their rights if a job injury does occur.