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Keep workers safe inside trenches

Minnesota construction workers may most often associate scaffolding and equipment as potential hazards. However, trenches can also cause people to incur injuries and it is important to follow the proper procedures to ensure no one is harmed.

Many construction workers may not realize that working inside a trench is one of the most hazardous assignments on a construction site. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that people can be harmed if the trench caves in or if people fall into the trench. The atmosphere inside can also become contaminated, causing workers to become ill. To keep workers safe, it is important for all trenches to be inspected by someone knowledgeable about the types of hazards unique to trenches. This person typically should inspect the trench each day and predict or identify situations that might be dangerous. These situations should usually be fixed before workers enter the trench.

It is also important for workers to use the right kind of protective system. According to Cleaner magazine, people should generally identify the kind of soil they are working with and then use the appropriate sloping angle for the walls. This can help ensure that the trench is stable. It is also a good idea to support the walls of a trench with cross braces or hydraulic shoring.

When a trench is dug on a construction site, it is important for people to ensure that nearby buildings and sidewalks will still be structurally stable. Sometimes workers may need to install bracing systems to keep these stable as they work. Additionally, people should make sure that a trench has the appropriate entrance and exit points. Workers should also be no further than 25 feet away from these entrances and exits.


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