A Michigan construction accident stemming from work in a trench almost claimed the life of a 40 year old man recently. The man was fortunate to escape death when the walls of a trench he was working in collapsed, trapping him waist deep in the hole. The man was lucky to be rescued by co-workers and only sustained injuries to his legs and pelvis and some internal injuries as well.
The following excerpt explains what happened during the incident:
A 40-year-old Hudsonville man was hospitalized Thursday after a construction accident partially buried him.
Brian Segard was part of an excavating crew building a new portion of a road at Jasper Drive and Zion Drive in Georgetown Township when the walls of the 8-foot deep trench collapsed, trapping him from the waist down, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
He was freed by other workers on the scene and taken to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids in stable condition with injuries to his legs and pelvis as well as internal injuries.
Although ensuring trench safety is a lengthy process from inception to completion of the work, there are a few basic tips that workers should keep in mind when engaging in trench work.
Firstly each worker must be authorized to work in the trench before entering and workers should never enter an unprotected trench, even if instructed to do so because this is endangering their life.
Each employee in a trench should be protected from a cave-in by an adequate protective system. Some of the protective systems for trenches are ensuring they are sloped for stability or cut to create stepped benched grades. Another system is using posts, beams, shores or planking and hydraulic jacks for support of the trench. Some trenches may be supported by a trench box to protect workers in a trench.
Additionally, excavated or other materials must be at least 2 feet back from the edge of a trench ideally to prevent it falling in and causing the edges of the trench to collapse.
The 4 basic steps of Trench safety include:
- Have a properly trained and competent person on site. In addition to each worker being adequately trained, a competent person should be present on site to regularly inspect trenches for any signs of potential collapse, hazardous atmospheres and other hazards. This person should be able to identify any existing or foreseeable hazards which may threaten the safety of workers in or around the trench area.
- Secondly it is important that the general WH&S requirements are followed. All Australian standards relating to trench work need to be adhered to. This includes addressing issues such as fall protection, vehicular traffic risks, hazardous atmospheres, stability of the adjacent structures etc.
- The soil should be carefully and thoroughly analysed by a competent person beforehand. Analyzing the soil is the first step to choosing the appropriate Protective System.
- Utilize a Protective System, for example shoring or benching, this is extremely important to prevent collapses and cave-ins.