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Excavations bring unique worker hazards

Oklahoma construction workers handling excavation tasks may be at risk of site-specific fatal accidents, such as suffocation, fume inhalation, drowning, electrocution and explosions. For this reason, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that certain work sites incorporate special protections, like testing procedures, site inspections, traffic control and construction coordination.

According to OSHA, some of the major hazards that contribute to excavation and trenching injuries are related to the way work sites are managed. Deficiencies may include a lack of safe access or egress, the improper placement of spoil piles, and the incorrect maintenance of protective systems or trench structures.

While different hazards require unique forms of protection, proper planning and inspections are cited as being critical to avoiding hazards. For instance, excavations need to be inspected on a regular basis by an individual who must meet specific competency requirements. Many protective systems have to be integrated into trench or excavation construction, so they have to be planned before most work actually begins. The efficacy of access mechanisms may depend on how quickly they facilitate egress, meaning that they often have to incorporate structural ramps, ladders and other additional components.

Construction jobs that involve excavations and similar heavy work may place people at a heightened risk of brain, neck, back and limb injuries. The incidence of workplace injuries at many sites is often directly related to how well employers and supervisors manage safety conditions and enforce proper procedures. Even when all precautions are taken, however, accidents can and do occur, and those who are injured may want to have the assistance of an attorney in seeking benefits under their employer's workers' compensation insurance coverage.

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