Trench Collapse Work Accidents

Miles and miles of trench are dug throughout construction sites in the United States every year. The excavation and trench digging process is critical part of pouring foundations for buildings, burying underground cables/powerlines/utilities, and replacing or installing underground sewer/gas/water pipes. Trenching and forming trenches involves particular equipment and precision as most trenches are dug near water pipes, gas lines, utility and fiber-optic cables.

The Dangerous Nature of Excavation Work

Trench collapses and cave-ins are among the most life-threatening work hazards in the entire construction and excavation industry. Statistics compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveal that excavation and trenching is some of the most dangerous work in the United States. Annually, 100 construction workers are killed, and 1,000 more are injured due to excavation accidents. Its not hard to believe when you consider that soil can weigh as much as 3,000 lbs. per cubic yard.

Employers and general contractors owe all worksite employees a duty to maintain a reasonably safe workplace. This means they are required to follow all OSHA regulation and make sure employees are properly trained and provided proper safety equipment. They also need to make sure the equipment they provide their employees is well maintained and not defective. Many trenching deaths and injuries occur because employers attempt to cut costs by not following all the necessary safety standards.

How Trench Accidents Occur

A large number of trench accidents are preventable if the appropriate safety precautions are taken. When these accidents do occur, they tend to involve one of several types of accidents which usually includes:

  • Cave-ins and collapses: These accidents occur when the sides of a trench cave-in or collapse.
  • Falling into trenches: When trenches are not properly marked off and workers are not provided adequate warning about the presence of trenches on the worksite, there is a risk of workers sustaining injuries by mistakenly falling inside.
  • Heavy machinery falls: Heavy machinery is usually used near or as part of the trenching process. These massive machines can fall into trenches causing serious injuries if the proper safety precautions aren’t followed.

Safety Regulations Involving Excavation

To combat the risk of excavation accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has passed certain regulations that are designed to protect workers. These regulations require employers and general contractors to do the following:

  • Conduct detailed inspections of excavation sites and trenches after it rains. Rain water compromises the structural integrity of trenches and is responsible for many trench collapses,
  • Prohibit cranes and excavators from suspending loads above the trench or excavation area,
  • Provide safe ways for workers to get in and out of the trench,
  • Provide and require workers to wear hard hats,
  • Excavation and trenching activities can disrupt underground gas lines or cause natural gas deposits in the earth to escape. This can exposes workers to toxic gases like carbon monoxide which is odorless and tasteless. It is important for employers and general contractors to periodically perform air quality testing to identify the presence of potentially deadly gasses,
  • Conduct soil analysis to determine what type of soil is underground. Some soils are finer than others making them more likely to cause trench collapses,
  • Identify and mark all electric and gas lines before work to prevent workers from getting electrocuted or coming into contact with noxious gas,
  • Use prefabricated trench boxes or trench forms to line the walls of the trench in order to prevent cave-ins and trench wall collapses,
  • Utilize barriers and warning signs to prevent workers from falling into the excavation,

Speak with an Experienced Accident Attorney

Trench collapses and excavation accidents are very complicated cases from a legal standpoint. Several different parties might be responsible for a trench or excavation accident. It’s important to hire an attorney to perform a thorough investigation of the accident in order to identify all possible responsible parties. Our accident attorneys have built strong wrongful death cases in the past which allowed us to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence. Contact our trench accident lawyers today to schedule an initial free consultation and we will start gathering information in order to determine how the accident occurred and who is responsible.

We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case.

Our worker’s compensation lawyers assist clients throughout all of Massachusetts including, but not limited to, those in the following counties, cities and towns: Plymouth County, Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Westport, Dartmouth, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Hyannis, Falmouth, Barnstable and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere, Dorchester, Roxbury.