Hazards of Working in Trenches
An inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) visited a worksite in Ohio recently and immediately ordered the employee to leave a trench being dug by the construction company. Within five minutes the trench collapsed. That move saved the worker from being buried under six to seven feet of soil.
Cave-ins are a constant danger for those working in construction where a trench is present. Federal requirements under OSHA dictate all excavations five feet or deeper be fortified with cave-in protection. In this case there was none.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report there is an annual average of 1,000 trench collapses at construction sites resulting in injuries. On average, 54 workers are killed in fatal construction accidents each year. The CDC reports most of the accidents involving trenches occur with companies that have 10 or fewer employees and the majority of injuries occur when there are no protective systems.
Trench collapses can be caused when the construction company fails to follow safety guidelines and is negligent or careless. Workers can be seriously injured if they accidentally fall into a trench. Failing to properly shore up the sides of the trench can cause the trench to collapse on the worker or workers. Machinery resting too close to the edge can cause a collapse, and equipment defects can cause workers to be buried under soil. Heavy machinery with a load can land on a worker or he can be electrocuted when electric wires come in contact with moist soil. The risk of drowning occurs when a trench suddenly fills with water and there is no escape route.
The type of soil on the job site is a critical factor. A trench accident can occur if a pile of dirt, known as the spoil, is placed too close to the edge of the trench. If that pile of dirt becomes saturated with rain or is shaken by the vibration from heavy machinery, it can be made unstable and cause the trench to collapse.
The truth is that most trench collapse rescues usually involve retrieving a body.
Speak with a Jacksonville Trench Accident Attorney Immediately After a Collapse Accident
If you are injured in a trench accident, OSHA will be called to the work site to determine whether state and federal safety laws were followed. If you suspect that negligence at the worksite contributed to your injuries, you would be well-advised to consult with a Jacksonville construction accident attorney immediately who will advocate on your behalf to seek compensation and damages. A consultation is complimentary and there may be remedies beyond workers’ compensation if there was negligence on the part of your employer or a third party.