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What are the dangers of working in a construction trench?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2023 | Workplace Accidents

Sometimes construction work places you in excavations and trenches. Construction workers face a variety of risks on the job, and a trench is not an exception. These dangers can threaten your health and even your life without the proper safety precautions.

Construction Exec takes a look at some of the common accidents that can happen in a construction trench.


The possibility of a trench collapsing is why OSHA has standards for the construction of trenches deeper than five feet. These requirements describe how to slope or bench the walls of a trench and how to support them. Construction companies should also add support to structures close to the trench so they do not cause a cave-in.

Falling objects

A secure trench will probably not collapse, but that does not mean you have nothing to worry about as you work. Tools near the edge of the trench could fall in. Sometimes other construction workers and contractors work too close to a trench and cause a load to fall into it. Accidents can also happen if workers place heavy materials closer than two feet near a trench.

Hazardous air

Trenches that descend further than four feet sometimes subject workers to a lack of oxygen or a dangerous atmosphere. Life-threatening gases can collect due to the confined space of the trench. Without a way to vent the gases, workers could suffer serious illnesses or even succumb to gas poisoning.

Employer training of workers, as well as regular inspections of trenches, could avoid a tragic outcome. Still, if you suffer a trench injury that is not your fault, workers’ comp and other options may help you with your medical bills.