Trench Accidents: Risks and Prevention Methods
In the construction industry, trench accidents are highly dangerous and very common. When construction workers are working underground, they risk the chance of being buried alive or seriously injured at any moment. There is no way to warn workers when a trench fails. When this happens, workers typically don’t have enough time to travel to safety.
In some instances, insignificant amounts of dirt seem harmless; however, a single cubic yard of dirt weighs up to 3,000 pounds. Even smaller solid pieces of dirt can cause injuries. Understanding the risks and prevention methods can help employees avoid trench accidents. In the event a trench accident still occurs, working with experienced attorneys and experts will help employees receive the appropriate financial assistance they deserve.
Underground Construction Risks
Trench collapses, or excavation cave-ins, are one of the most feared construction accidents in the construction industry. Besides the risk of being buried alive or seriously injured, other dangers include being deprived of oxygen and the inhalation of toxic fumes. Workers also risk being electrocuted when they come into contact with underground electric cables, natural gas mains, or service lines.
Preventing Trench Accidents
The leading cause of trench accident fatalities is the lack of protective systems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that trenches five feet deep or more must utilize a protective system. Protective system options include sloping the ground, benching the ground, using planking or hydraulic jacks to shore the trench with support, or shielding the trench. Employers are required to ensure that their employees do not work in a trench that does not have an adequate protective system that was built by a qualified individual. There are a bunch of aspects that affect the soil while employees work, such as the water content of the soil, environmental conditions, the weight of heavy equipment, and the vibrations of heavy machines or vehicles.
Individuals working on a protective system must know that when each side of the trench is shored, the type of soil, and the width and depth of the trench determine how far apart the support needs to be. There are distinct types of regulations depending on the kind of support being used for certain trenches.
Trench Accident Lawyer
When a worker gets seriously injured in a trench accident, it’s essential to hire a qualified attorney that is knowledgeable about trench cases. Qualified attorneys will work with experts that know different shoring components, construction installation methods, variations of soil, effects of weather conditions, OSHA safety regulations, and OSHA investigative reports. Once the expert reviews all necessary documentation regarding the case, the expert will then provide a report that includes testing, graphs, charts, and detailed analysis.
At Los Angeles Injury Group, we understand that trench accidents are responsible for a large number of fatalities within the construction industry. The death rate for trench accidents is 112% higher than any other accident in the construction industry. Even if injuries aren’t fatal, we know that they can still be severe or catastrophic. Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment for their employees. If employers fail to comply with those requirements, we believe they should be liable for the injured victim’s economic and non-economic damages. If you, or someone you love, was involved in a trench accident, call (310) 954-7248 for a free consultation.