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I keep seeing these large rectangular structures on job sites they put in the ground.

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I'm guessing something for strengthening the surface structures?

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    $\begingroup$ I believe this is a trench shield or steel trench box, which protects workers from cave ins while working on utilites $\endgroup$ – depperm Mar 5 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ Ahh!!! That's it! Thanks! If you put it as an answer, i'll mark it as such. $\endgroup$ – v15 Mar 5 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ Yep. And despite them being required by OSHA (I think), you'll still come across an operation where they are not being used. Usually shows up on the evening news when a worker is buried due to a wall collapsing. $\endgroup$ – SteveSh Mar 5 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this isn't about home improvement. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Griscom Mar 6 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ Is there another meta site you can move this too? Looking at the views and up votes it appears to be useful information $\endgroup$ – v15 Mar 6 at 2:28
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It is a trench shield. It gets placed in a trench after the trench is dug to prevent workers from being hurt or killed in the event of a trench collapse.

enter image description here

This picture from GMC trench shield shows a partially collapsed trench with a shield installed that would protect the workers installing the blue brute pipe.

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  • $\begingroup$ I remember 2 instances where a person lost his life due to that person going into or working in a trench where one of those supports was on the job but not used. One such accident happened at a job near Philadelphia, Pa. and one happened at a job site north of Pittsburgh, Pa. $\endgroup$ – d.george Mar 6 at 14:48
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It is shoring for trenching work.

If a trench collapses on a worker the weight and force of the material will lead to crush injuries. Even if you are able to dig someone out from a collapse, crush injuries can lead to crush syndrome ending with kidney failure and death.

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    $\begingroup$ The primary risk in a trench collapse is simple suffocation. $\endgroup$ – isherwood Mar 5 at 18:03

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