Trenching and excavation are particularly dangerous construction operations. They can result in the crushing or suffocation of workers in the case of a collapse. OSHA provides trench safety guidelines for the digging and maintenance of trenches which aim at minimizing the risk of collapse.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trench accident, you may be entitled to compensation above and beyond the benefits provided by workers’ compensation. To find out if you are eligible for a construction accident lawsuit, fill out our free case review form to speak with a construction attorney.
Causes of Trench Accidents
Trench collapses may be caused by the weight of a nearby machine, soil shifting due to rain, improper or insufficient preparation or maintenance of the trench, etc. Trenches should be inspected daily for signs of a potential collapse. Other dangers associated with trenching include underground gas and electrical lines.
While some trench accidents are inevitable, many trench collapses are preventable. Many construction companies are unaware of the OSHA regulations regarding trench safety and fail to take the necessary precautions to prevent trench collapses and ensure the safety of their workers. For instance, the construction company may fail to obtain the standard equipment for trench digging or retain the help of trench specialists when necessary. Likewise, the construction company may fail to train its workers who must first assess the ground strength before digging, as working on soft or wet soil can be dangerous. Unfortunately, misinformed decisions regarding the digging of trenches can led to serious accidents on a construction site.
Warning Signs of a Trench Collapse
Construction contractors should be on alert for signs of a trench collapse. Among the common warning signs include:
- Tension cracks
- Softening of the sidewall
- Alternations in the wall bulge or slope
- Bowing of struts
In addition to looking out for signs of a trench collapse, employers and contractors also have several responsibilities to prevent construction site accidents. According to construction accident law, they must utilize protective equipment in accordance with federal worker safety laws and inspect the trenches daily at the beginning of every shift. In addition, because a change in soil conditions can be dangerous for trench workers, employers must check trench and evacuation areas following heavy rainfall or floods. They also have a duty to contact utilities and determine whether underground lines are present.
Construction workers who survive trench accidents may develop long-term or permanent injuries that may require continued medical care, surgery, or extensive rehabilitation. This can have a burdensome effect on the worker’s financial stability, particularly if he or she cannot return to work for a long period of time. Although workers’ compensation is available to those injured in a construction site accident, it typically only provides a limited amount of compensation to injured workers. By filing a construction accident lawsuit, however, the worker may be able to obtain a significantly larger amount of compensation for lost wages, medical care, and pain and suffering. Additionally, construction lawsuits can send a strong message about job safety, as contractors have a duty to provide a safe construction site for their workers.
Our construction attorneys understand the effect trench accidents can have on workers and their loved ones. We are dedicated to helping injured construction workers obtain maximum compensation for their injuries so they can afford the medical care necessary for their recovery. If you would like to speak with one of our construction litigation lawyers today, simply fill out our free case review form on the right.