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Atkinson Gerber Law Office
Injured? Take Action Now!

After the collapse: What should I know about trench accidents?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Working in trenches is one of the most hazardous jobs in the construction field. It involves risks that can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, far too many employers fail to follow safety measures to reduce the risk of accidents and the results are catastrophic. Dozens of workers died as a result of injuries sustained during trenching and excavation work in 2022 alone and even more suffered serious, life-altering injuries.

What are the dangers that come with working in a trench?

Common dangers can include cave-ins, falling loads, hazardous vapors, and equipment failures. These can result in serious injuries, including:

  • Neck and back injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Amputations
  • Asphyxiation

Falling debris and equipment can strike workers and cause serious injuries that may require surgical intervention and extensive medical care.

How are we keeping workers safe from these dangers?

Legal requirements and safety protocols are in place to protect workers from these dangers. Regulations require employers conduct a thorough risk assessment before starting work and ensure proper trench protective systems are in place, such as sloping, shoring, or trench boxes. The law also requires those in charge of these sites regularly inspect trenches for signs of potential collapse and keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.

Adhering to safety standards is not only a legal requirement but a moral imperative to protect workers’ lives and well-being. Yet, even with these high risks, violations of these standards are not uncommon. In a recent example, a Minnesota construction contractor faced more than $1 million in penalties after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection found the employer had failed to protect his workers while they worked in excavation sites. Even more concerning, this was not the contractor’s first violation. They had already received two prior violations and were under an agreement to make changes to enhance the safety of their operations.

What are my options if seriously injured in a trench accident?

You are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if injured while on the job in a trench accident. It may also be possible to hold other parties accountable, such as contractors who failed to follow safety protocols or equipment manufacturers who provided defective products.

It is best to keep detailed records to help build your claim. Examples include copies of medical records and communications with the employer.



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