Construction Employers Lax On Trench And Excavation Safety For Workers

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

Without a doubt, the construction industry boasts some of the most dangerous jobs in America. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this trillion dollar industry claimed the lives of 715 workers in 2010. Of the many dangers facing these workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that excavation and trenching operations are the most hazardous.

According to the BLS, 350 workers died in trenching or excavation cave-ins between 2000 and 2009. Further, numerous injuries occur each year. This past February, a Los Angeles construction worker was killed after an eight-by-two-foot trench collapse buried him up to neck. In July, Corpus Cristi temporary worker Robert Keys had his legs crushed following a 30-foot fall after he was clipped by construction equipment. Just weeks ago in Iowa, 23-year-old construction worker Tony Marbach was buried up to his baseball cap when the trench in which he was working, collapsed. Marbach suffered broken bones and chest injuries.

According to OSHA, the lack of adequate cave-in protection systems is the biggest factor contributing to these kinds of construction deaths and injuries. Measuring excavations, the federal worker safety agency requires protective systems for all projects five feet or greater. Protective system options range from altering the environment by sloping the ground to equipment supports such as hydraulic jacks, trench boxes, and planking. OSHA cautions workers to never enter a trench that does not have some protective system in place.

In the 1980s, OSHA implemented a special program emphasizing trenching and excavation safety. Unfortunately, despite decades of regulation, trench accidents and injuries still occur because companies fail to follow safety protocols. Construction companies have a duty to abide by federal safety laws which mandate safe and healthy work environments. When companies fail to follow the rules, they do more than violate federal and state laws, they breach their duty to their employees.

Trenching and excavation deaths and injuries are preventable. However, workers' lives and health will continue to be at risk if employers are not held accountable for failing to provide mandated protections. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a trenching or excavation accident, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your options.