Construction Site Trench and Excavation Accidents

Trenches are commonly used at many construction sites to bury electrical wires, conduit, and plumbing, or to otherwise gain access to an underground area. Trenches pose a serious risk to construction workers, and trench accidents are among the most dangerous and devastating types of construction site accidents.

Trench Accident Causes

Typical causes of trench accidents include:

  • Falls. Trenches can create a serious construction site fall hazard, especially when they aren’t properly marked and secured. Workers can easily fall when a trench is unguarded and they walk or stand too close to the edge.
  • Cave-ins. When a trench caves in, workers may be seriously injured or killed. If the trench isn’t properly secured with a retaining wall and other structural reinforcements, it may collapse. This can potentially result in the victim being crushed by thousands of pounds of dirt.
  • Asphyxiation. Asphyxiation is a common cause of fatalities in trenches, often due to a lack of oxygen or the presence of toxic fumes. This can occur when there is inadequate ventilation or insufficient respiratory protection provided to workers.
  • Electrocution and explosions. Electrocution or explosions may occur when workers come into contact with underground electrical cables, natural gas mains, or service lines.
  • Crush injuries. When heavy machinery is used too close to the lip of a trench, it may fall in, injuring workers in the trench or the machine operator.

Avoiding Trench Accidents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that specific safety standards be observed by all construction sites utilizing trenches. These safety measures include:

  • Providing adequate ventilation.
  • Locating all utility lines.
  • Keeping excavated soil and heavy equipment at least two feet away from the edge.
  • Providing walking surfaces around the edge of trenches.
  • Testing for low oxygen and hazardous fumes in trenches with a depth exceeding four feet.
  • Installing trench boxes or other retaining structures.
  • Providing personal safety equipment.

Compensation for Trench Accidents

Trenches are dangerous work areas, requiring extra safety precautions to avoid accidents. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a trench accident, you deserve compensation. To discuss your claim, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by using the form on this page.

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