If you work at an outdoor construction site, you are no stranger to trenches. After all, you rely on trenches to build foundations, run cables and install pipes. You may even use a trench to remove groundwater from beneath your worksite.
While trenches are necessary, they can also be extremely dangerous. In fact, in late December 2020, a construction worker in Kansas died when a trench collapsed. While sad, the story is far from an isolated one. As winter turns to spring, trenches often become unstable.
When it comes to trench stability, excessive moisture is the enemy. Not only can too much rain cause the ground to become soggy and shifty, but it may also wash away trench supports. Additionally, during heavy rainfall, a trench may become a drowning hazard.
Frozen ground is more solid than thawed dirt. Still, during the springtime, the ground may not thaw evenly. Uneven thawing may cause trenches to become unpredictable. That is, while one part of a trench may be perfectly fine, other parts may fall. Temperature extremes that are common during the spring also may add to the danger, as the ground may freeze and thaw continually.
As temperatures climb and days lengthen, construction crews become busier. If inclement weather has kept you away from the job, it may be tempting to rush through trench construction. Still, if you do not dig a stable trench, your life may be in danger.
Ultimately, while you can take steps to stay safe when working in and around trenches, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for any trench-related injuries you sustain at work.