Trenches are a common site in many construction zones. For instance, workers will need to dig trenches when doing utility work or laying underground pipes and wires.
Oftentimes, workers will dig trenches when construction new buildings and even when doing highway construction.
Trenches are prone to collapse, other dangers
Although a necessary part of many different types of construction sites, they are also dangerous.
For instance, trenches are prone to collapse without warning should the soil shift even slightly. Collapses cause hundreds of workers to suffer significant injuries and many to die each year.
Trenches are also dangerous for other reasons. For instance, trenches can act as a kind of cesspool for poisonous gasses, and digging around existing utilities can cause an explosion, an electric shock or another serious accident.
Employers need to keep those who work in the trench safe
While of course New Jersey construction workers should take caution and follow their workplace rules when in these trenches, employers also need to be sure that they keep their workers safe.
If it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure that all trenches over 5 feet deep are adequately protected from collapse.
Employers must also keep heavy equipment and other heavy items away from the trench.
Finally, employers are responsible to be sure that they have a responsible person inspect trenches for possible hazards regularly, at least at the beginning of each shift and after a significant rain.
Should a worker suffer an injury because of a trench, they may be able to obtain financial help through New Jersey’s workers’ compensation program.