Workers who participate in digging or excavating trenches risk severe injury or death if they are inside a trench and the walls collapse. Trenches are potentially dangerous to those working around the excavated area as well. However, the hazards associated with trench work and excavation are well-known and preventable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides clear standards for trenching and excavation, describing in detail the precautions, protective equipment, and routine practices needed to make excavation work less dangerous. Therefore, when employers and contractors fail to make trenching and excavation as safe as possible for workers, they should be held accountable for their errors and oversights.
Reasons Why Trench & Excavation Accidents Are So Dangerous
There isn’t a dependable warning sign a trench is going to fail. Trench walls can collapse in seconds, and there’s no way for workers to move out of the way in time to avoid injury. Just one cubic yard of dirt weighs over 3,000 pounds—more than enough weight to cause suffocation and crushing injuries—and even smaller, solid pieces of falling dirt can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and traumatic brain injury. And trenches don’t have to be exceptionally deep for trench and excavation accidents to result in serious injuries. OSHA data has shown that over 60% of fatalities in trenches occurred at depths of less than 10 feet.
Frequent causes of trench and excavation accidents include:
- Lack of protective systems in place to prevent collapse, such as sloping or benching the ground, using supports to shore the trench, or shielding the trench
- Failure to properly train trench and excavation workers
- Failure to designate a person to ensure safety measures are in place
- Failure to locate and mark utility lines
- Failure to properly evaluate the soil to determine its stability
- Keeping soil and other materials too close to the edge of a trench
The fact that almost all trench and excavation accidents are completely preventable can’t be overstated. By complying with OSHA standards, construction contractors can save lives. Yet, lack of supervision and training, ignorance of safety rules, pressures of time and money, and, in some cases, outright laziness are all factors in trench and excavation-related deaths and injuries. At Payer & Associates, we take trench and excavation accident cases very seriously because these claims often reveal blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of workers—a driving force at the very center of personal injury and workers’ compensation law.
Call Payer & Associates to Discuss Your Trench & Excavation Accident Claim
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trench or excavation accident in the Miami area, please contact Payer & Associates to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer. Whether your case involves a workers’ compensation claim, a lawsuit, or a wrongful death action, we will pursue your best interests and fight for the compensation you deserve.