One of the deadliest accidents on a construction site is a trench collapse. Due to the heavy weight of the soil — as much as 3,000 lbs. for a single cubic yard — few workers survive the experience.
That means that preventing a collapse is even more vital. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in a single recent year, a dozen construction workers were injured and nearly two dozen died as a result of trench collapses that were almost universally preventable.
Protect yourself from risk
There is no warning that a trench is about to collapse. That's why it's so important that companies follow strict protocols to make sure that the trench area and surrounding ground is stable and properly shored up before employees ever descend into it.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines request that a company employee call 811 prior to breaking ground to ascertain that no underground utility lines are present. Also, there must be a designated competent person on the job site to see that all safety measures have been followed.
Other duties of a competent person
The on-the-job competent person has to put a protective system in place. Any job plans should also plot routes for heavy machinery and designate areas that are safe and far enough away from the trench site.
Competent persons must also inspect the trench site prior to the start of work, periodically during the day and after it rains to make sure there's been no soil slippage.
What causes collapses?
There are numerous reasons for trench collapses. Some of them include:
- Unstable soil
- Vibrations from nearby traffic
- Heavy machinery too close to the excavation
- High water content
- Adverse environmental conditions
- Digging too close to prior back-filled excavations
Were you injured in a trench collapse on your job-site? If you were lucky enough to survive the experience, you still may have been severely and permanently injured. Your medical bills could be expensive and you may need ongoing therapies to recover as much of your pre-injury strength and capabilities as possible.
Seeking legal guidance at such an unfortunate time could help you receive the benefits and compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries, damages and other losses.