Committed To Making A Difference In The Lives Of Our Clients

Trench tragedies: What are my rights after a trench collapse accident?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Serious Injuries/Wrongful Death

Trench work is a necessary component of many construction projects, but it comes with significant risks. Recent data indicate a worrying rise in trench collapse incidents, leading to severe injuries and fatalities. The primary cause? Negligence. Understanding the dangers and knowing your rights can be the difference between safety and catastrophe.

Are trench accidents on the rise?

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported a jump in trench accident-related fatalities from 15 in 2021 to 22 in the first six months of 2022. This is a significant jump in preventable deaths.

In response, the agency launched enhanced enforcement efforts to find and resolve safety violations involving trench sites. These efforts are in response to a growing disregard of workplace safety in trenching and excavation work. The agency committed itself to performing over 1,000 trench site inspections throughout the country.

When is a trench unsafe?

Trench collapses often happen without warning, yet many are preventable. Unsafe practices that can increase the risk of a collapse can include:

  • Inadequate protective systems: Trenches 5 feet deep or greater require a protective system.
  • Lack of regular inspections: Competent personnel must inspect trenches daily and as conditions change.
  • Improper or absent access and egress: Trenches 4 feet deep or more should have ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means within 25 feet of workers.

Every worker has the right to a safe working environment. The law requires employers implement preventative measures to better ensure the safety of workers.