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Chances of surviving a trench collapse are slim

Whenever a cut, impression or trench is formed in the surface of the earth by using excavation equipment, lives will be at risk. There is little chance of surviving a trench collapse, and New Jersey employers must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations to protect employees. Any excavation of which the depth exceeds a specified width classifies as a trench that is subject to specific safety rules.

The primary dangers of trenches are cave-ins, falling loads, atmospheric hazards, falls and mobile equipment-related incidents. However, collapses of trench walls are the most likely causes of deaths involving excavation accidents. For the protection of employees, a properly trained individual must inspect the trench before and during every shift to identify potential hazards or any signs that the stability of the trench was compromised.

Different methods of protection are available. One option is shoring, which involves the installation of supports to prevent the movement of soil that can cause cave-ins. Sloping -- a process of cutting the trench wall back at a slanting angle -- is used at some work sites. The third -- and maybe most effective -- form of protection is a trench box that is placed in the trench and protects workers from sidewall collapses and from overhead dangers.

Sadly, some employers shy away from the costs of trench protection, to the detriment of their employees. Any New Jersey family that has to cope with the loss of a loved one who died on the job due to a trench collapse can pursue assistance to help with the unanticipated financial burden of a funeral and burial along with the sudden loss of income. The support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney are also available for the handling of the administrative and legal proceedings involving survivors' benefits claims.

Source: osha.gov, "Trenching and Excavation Safety", Accessed on Aug. 21, 2017

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