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What protective systems can be used to prevent trench collapse?

On many occasions, this blog has described the many dangers faced by New York construction workers. Even in the best situations, construction workers face extreme hazards on the job site. These hazards can cause injuries that keep people from earning a living for years to come. An injured worker can be left with no way to earn an income or support his or her family. Therefore, it is important that construction sites do everything possible to protect workers from serious injuries and death.

One common cause of injuries on construction sites is trench collapse. As this blog has mentioned in the past, there are ways for workers to make sure they are safe around trenches. However, there are also specific protective systems that should be adopted by construction site managers to prevent these injuries.

New York workers may wonder -- what protective systems are available to help prevent trench collapse?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are four main systems that can be implemented by a construction site. The best system for a particular site will depend on the work that is being done and the soil type at a particular job site. The weather, workloads and materials used in a project can also affect the availability of protective systems.

The first protective system is called shielding. Shielding occurs when physical supports are used inside a hole or trench to prevent a cave-in of the soil. OSHA says the second type of protective system is shoring. Shoring includes installing supports to prevent movement of the soil. These supports are often constructed from aluminum. Another protective system is called sloping. Sloping includes creating the trench wall at an angle. In these cases, the wall is sloped away from the excavation. Finally, there is benching. Benching occurs when horizontal and vertical steps are craved into the sides of the trench to help prevent cave-ins.

No matter the protective systems that are in place, if a worker is hurt on a construction site he or she may have the right to workers' compensation. Construction workers should therefore understand their legal rights as it pertains to recovering compensation when hurt on the job.

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