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Dangers of trench collapses in Illinois

Every year, workers across the country are killed or seriously injured when they are in trenches that suddenly collapse. It is vitally important that employers take the necessary safety measures to help prevent trench walls from collapsing. Workers should refrain from entering an unprotected trench until these safety measures are implemented.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of 35 workers were killed in trench wall cave-ins each year between 2000 and 2009. Most of those who were killed were working in trenches that were less than 10 feet deep. Those most at risk include excavation workers, working laying pipe or communications lines and those involved in the construction of power lines.

While loose dirt may not seem harmful, a cubic meter of it can way as much or more than 3,000 pounds, thus having the ability to crush or suffocate workers if walls collapse. The agency recommends that employers conduct planning prior to beginning a job, and they need to implement safety training and safety systems. They should select a method of shoring up walls best suited for the soil type and the slope of the ground. Employers should only use people who are competent to install the needed systems, and they should not require workers to ever enter unprotected trenches.

Construction and excavation work can be especially hazardous, leading to many workplace injuries every year. While workers' compensation insurance may be available to pay an injured worker's expenses and lost income, it is best for both employers and employees to take reasonable steps to ensure worker safety. Preventing injuries in the first place is much more preferable than later receiving workers' compensation benefits and suffering a possibly permanent loss of quality of life.

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