When a trench is stable, working in it feels safe and secure. This is an illusion, however. A trench can collapse and cover workers in thousands of pounds of soil and rock in mere seconds. This is very dangerous and often fatal. Workers who survive the initial collapse may get buried so deeply that rescue crews cannot get to them in time.
The key, then, is to prevent the collapse from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Employers always need to provide safety equipment and proper trench support systems.
- Employers need to make sure they train workers on how to use these systems.
- Workers should never go into a trench, even just for a second, if it is not protected.
- Workers should not underestimate the speed of a potential collapse. Often, when it happens, there is not time for anyone below to get out from under it.
- Crews should always carry out proper inspections. They need to inspect the soil conditions and the condition of the trench every day.
- Workers need to know that they’re allowed to err on the side of caution. If they see any warning signs, like shifting soil or water coming into the trench, they need to get out.
- Work crews should never drive vehicles near a trench or leave heavy materials close to the edge.
These tips can definitely help, but collapses continue to happen, and workers keep getting injured or even killed in these incidents. The families of these workers need to make sure they understand all of their legal rights.