Construction workers in Pennsylvania are often asked to perform extremely hazardous tasks, and they rely on innovative safety systems and the latest protective equipment to keep them safe. Excavation work and trench digging may seem far safer than clinging to scaffolding hundreds of feet in the air, but cave-ins, toxic fumes, oxygen deprivation and flooding are constant sources of worry for workers and safety inspectors alike.
Excavation or trench digging work should not proceed until the area concerned has been thoroughly evaluated. This may involve testing soil samples and pinpointing the location of underground lines and pipes that could be disturbed during digging. Planners should also place ramps or ladders in several locations to allow workers to escape in an emergency, and care should be taken to place excavated soil away from workers. Retaining devices such as trench boxes can be used to extend trench walls vertically and prevent excavated soil or other debris falling or being pushed onto workers.
Intensive digging work is inherently unstable, and those tasked with inspecting trenches and excavations should be trained to notice the sometimes subtle signs that often precede an accident. Trenches and excavations should be inspected each day before work begins, and safety officers should be familiar with OSHA regulations and have the authority to stop work when an unsafe condition is observed.
Benefits available under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation program can help those who have suffered on-the-job injuries to pay their bills and cope financially until they are ready to rejoin the workforce, but the application process is time-sensitive and minor documentation errors can sometimes result in the claims being denied Attorneys who have experience in this area of the law can be of assistance in ensuring that the claim is complete and timely filed.