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Cave-in protection necessary in trenches

Some occupations come with inherent dangers, and those that work in trenches know that a cave-in can result in injuries or death. Since the risks of trench work are well known, there are many practices that can protect workers in California against collapses.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued standards for safe working conditions, and protective systems should be in place in trenches greater than 5-feet deep. This is very important in trenches, as there might be no warning before a collapse, and workers may suffocate or be crushed by dirt before they can escape. Protective systems are not always used, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration found that lack of such systems was a major cause of fatalities involving trench accidents.

Before starting a project involving trenching and excavation, NIOSH recommends considering safety concerns and creating a plan first. This can begin with electing a competent individual whose job is to ensure safety measures are used. After this person completes training, he or she can oversee telling workers about job hazards and safe work practices in language they can understand. If something goes wrong, there should be an emergency plan in place that includes who to contact after accidents occur.

If a worker is injured after a trench collapse, he or she is entitled to workers' compensation benefits that could help with medical and living expenses while one is unable to work. It is important to file this claim promptly and correctly, but one should be aware that there are options when receiving compensation. Payments may be offered in increments or in one lump sum amount. Workers have the right to an attorney when making choices about workers' compensation.

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