Working in the construction industry is dangerous in general, and many workers suffer injuries requiring them to file workers’ compensation claims in Georgia and South Carolina. One of the most hazardous operations on a construction site is the construction of trenches, which endangers those working near them and those performing tasks in them. Individuals injured when a trench collapses or caves in can suffer catastrophic injuries—or death.
What Are the Causes of Trench Accidents?
General laborers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and demolition workers are just some of the individuals who construct or work in or around trenches on commercial and residential construction sites. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), cave-ins are the leading causes of employees’ deaths when performing excavation duties. Falls, falling loads, mobile equipment accidents, and hazardous environments also result in injuries and fatalities. Some important facts about trench collapses and cave-ins include the following:
- The risk of a trench collapse increases if inadequate protections are installed to protect against the instabilities of the vertical trench walls. Depending on the trench size, soil type, moisture, and other factors, benching, sloping, supports and shoring, or a trench box may be needed but are not always utilized.
- Vibrations from heavy equipment, power tools, and traffic can cause the soil in the trench to destabilize. Employers often fail to take into account the dangers of vibrations when constructing the trench.
- When heavy equipment and soil are left too close to the trench edge, this can put additional stress on the walls of the trench and lead to their collapse.
- OSHA safety standards require the inspection of trenches on a daily basis and when weather or other conditions warrant it. The inspection must be done by a competent person who is trained to recognize unstable walls and other dangers that can lead to a cave-in or wall collapse. Often these safety standards are not followed.
- Tragic accidents occur in trenches when workers cannot get out of a collapsing trench because there is no safe means of entering and exiting it.
- Workers can also suffer respiratory and other illnesses if they are exposed to low oxygen, hazardous fumes, and toxic gases while working in or near a trench.
Your Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits If Injured in a Trench Collapse Accident
You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay your medical bills and lost wages if you suffered an injury in a trench collapse or cave-in at your job. Depending on the cause of your accident, you may also have a separate claim against a negligent third party for additional compensation for your injuries.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.