Workers in many dangerous fields risk serious injuries or death in workplace accidents. One such devastating accident is a trench collapse. In this type of accident, a trench suddenly caves in on workers at a construction site, causing them to suffocate or experience other life-altering injuries or death. However, workers or their families could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to financially compensate them.

Construction Workers at Risk of Trench Accidents

Pipeline trenchTrenches must be built at construction sites to install electrical wiring, sewers, footings, and to access underground structures. Many workers involved in various aspects of the construction project must work in trenches—and put themselves in danger of serious harm. Some of these workers who risk trench injuries include:

  • General laborers
  • Operators of heavy equipment
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC workers
  • Ironworkers
  • Carpenters
  • Demolition workers
  • Supervisors and site supervisors
  • Elevator workers and specialists

What Are the Causes of Deadly Trench Collapses?

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), trench cave-ins pose the greatest risk to workers and are much more likely to be the cause of fatalities than any other excavation-related accident. Even worse, there is rarely any notice of a trench collapse. It just happens suddenly, burying workers in the trench under mounds of heavy soil. These tragic accidents happen for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Moving machinery too close to the edge of the trench
  • A heavy rainstorm or flood from a water main leak making the trench unstable
  • Improper shoring or bracing, or no bracing at all
  • Backfill material left too close to the trench
  • The failure of employers to follow OSHA’s requirements for a protective system that includes specifications for properly bracing and shoring the trench walls
  • Soil type, composition, and environmental factors that are not taken into consideration when the trench is excavated
  • Vibrations from heavy machinery and vehicles on the work site

What Other Dangers of Injuries Do Workers in Trenches Face?

While a trench cave-in is the most dangerous risk workers face, they also could be severely injured in many other types of trench accidents. These include the following:

  • Falls
  • Objects falling on them
  • Drowning
  • Utility line accidents—including electrical shock or electrocution
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Low oxygen
  • Accidents involving heavy machinery

Injuries Workers Suffer in Trench-Related Accidents

Workers can suffer disabling injuries or truly horrific deaths in trench cave-ins and other accidents. Some of the injuries they suffer include:

  • Being buried alive and suffocated
  • Crushing injuries
  • Suffocation from low oxygen levels or poor ventilation
  • Spinal cord and back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Internal bleeding
  • Eye injuries and vision loss
  • Serious burns—some disfiguring
  • Knee and pelvic problems
  • Pelvic fracture
  • Nerve damage
  • Death

The Benefits You Could Be Entitled to Under Workers’ Compensation

Injured workers—and their families if the accident causes the workers’ death—may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured in a trench-related accident. Given the severity of their injuries, victims could need long term and expensive medical treatments and become permanently disabled—at least for the work they have performed in the past. Workers’ compensation benefits can help pay for the medical treatment they need and the wages they lost.

In addition, workers could also have a third-party claim against a subcontractor or other party if they were responsible for causing the trench cave-in or other accident. These cases can be complicated, so it is best to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after one of these accidents.

If you or a family member was injured in one of these tragedies, I urge you to call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free consultation to learn how I can help you fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer