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Colordao workers' compensation and trench collapse

A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a subdivision of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that 350 construction workers died in trench collapses on construction sites between 2000 and 2009, an average rate of 35 a year. Trenching operations such as sewer, telecommunications and water line installation and repair may require excavating to depths over 20 feet, but the NIOSH report states that 64 percent of all deaths in trench cave ins between 1997 and 2001 occurred at depths of less than 10 feet.

Risk factors for this type of workplace accident include improper shoring or site preparation, unstable soils, inclement weather such as rain and vibration from heavy equipment and vehicles near the work area. The NIOSH report specifies four different types of suitable trench preparation for depths between 5 and 20 feet. Below this depth, a professional engineer must develop site-appropriate safety measures.

Proper trench safety as defined by NIOSH and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration may include the use of planks or hydraulic devices to stabilize the sides, cutting the trench sides into steps, also known as benching, sloping the trench sides to prevent collapse or using trench boxes. Trench collapses often occur without warning, and NIOSH cites lack of property safety equipment as a leading cause of collapse-related deaths.

If a worker is harmed while on the job, filing for workers' compensation may alleviate some of the financial burden caused by subsequent medical expenses and potential loss of work. Should complications arise during the filing process, an attorney might be able to offer their professional assistance.

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