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The risk of workplace injuries is high in trenches

Trench work is a necessary part of many construction jobs here in California and elsewhere. The risk associated with working in trenches prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to recommend two primary ways to avoid potentially injurious or fatal cave-ins. When companies fail to follow these recommendations and other guidelines regarding trenches, workplace injuries are often the result.

Numerous fire fighters in another state risked their lives to save a worker after part of the trench in which he was working collapsed onto his legs. At a depth of approximately 12 feet, the effort to free the man also risked the lives of the fire fighters, who had to work upside down at some points during the rescue operation. Due to the real risk of further collapse, it took around six-and-a-half hours to get the worker out of the trench.

OSHA dispatched investigators to the scene to determine what went wrong. At last report, the 23-year-old man remained hospitalized in the intensive care unit at a Nebraska hospital. His condition was last reported as being fair. Whether he will fully recover from his injuries remains to be seen.

Serious workplace injuries such as those suffered by this man could require a significant amount of recovery time, during which he will incur medical expenses and lose income. As would be the case for a California worker under similar circumstances, he is more than likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits to cover his medical needs and lost wages. Depending on how his recovery goes, he could require additional benefits if he suffers permanent damage and is unable to return to work.

Source: omaha.com, "OSHA launches investigation of company digging trench that collapsed in Omaha", Alia Conley, March 16, 2017

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