One of the deadliest accidents that can occur on a construction site is a trench collapse. These disasters can be quickly fatal for the hapless laborers who are trapped underneath thousands of pounds of unstable soil.
These type of accidents can also spell disaster for the contractor and their company, as the victims or their survivors can allege negligence and file litigation against the company.
Collapses occur without warning
Some construction disasters may have warning signs that allow workers to get to safe ground before they happen. Not so with trench collapses. The site can literally appear fine one second and collapse and bury workers the next. This instability is part of what makes them so deadly.
Given that a single cubic yard of dirt may weigh over 3,000 lbs., it is easy to understand why approximately 35 fatalities occur in this way each year. Typically, these accidents happen during excavations to lay power lines, communication cables and sewer or water pipelines. In essence, everything that needs to be buried underground during the construction of a home or commercial property.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all trenches that are five feet or more in depth must use one of the below protective systems:
- Using a trench box to shield the trench
- Sloping the ground benching the ground
- Shoring the trench with hydraulic jacks or planking or
- Shielding the trench
Also, no laborers should go down into a trench that has no protective system in place that was designed and installed by a competent person.
Protecting your business begins with on-the-job safety
As a contractor and owner of a construction company, your commitment to your worker’s safety begins with training your crews in the OSHA-approved ways to construct and work in excavations. You should also ensure that the workers have access to all safety equipment.
If an accident occurs on the job, seek legal guidance to manage the fallout from the accident.