Trench Collapse Lawyer at Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C.
Construction workers often have to dig large trenches in the earth in order to lay down pipes. One of the dangers of working in a trench is becoming trapped underneath tons of earth, debris and construction materials during a collapse. A trench collapse often results in serious injuries and sometimes death.
It is important for injured construction workers and the families of those who have been killed in trench collapse accidents to speak with an experienced lawyer regarding your legal rights. At the law firm of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., our Texas attorneys work to make sure that our clients receive the compensation necessary to pay for the financial burdens associated with such accidents.
Trench Accidents and the Causes of Trench Collapses
A trench is a narrow excavation that is typically deeper than wide. Construction sites often use trenches to install underground pipes, cables, or other utilities. While trench work is integral to many construction jobs, it can be notoriously dangerous. Trench collapse injury is one of the most severe dangers associated with trench work. A trench collapse injury occurs when a worker is trapped or buried under the weight of material that has collapsed into a trench. Trench collapses can happen suddenly and without warning, and they can cause workers to suffocate or suffer from traumatic injuries.
There are strict safety regulations that are designed to keep construction workers safe. Unfortunately, when these regulations are disregarded or ignored, and other missteps are made, it can result in hazardous conditions for those working in trenches. The poor manufacturing or design of construction machinery used in trenches and other construction projects can also result in serious accidents. Trenches are prone to collapsing because of a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes of trench collapse is soil instability. When soil is not compacted correctly, it can easily cave in and collapse on workers. Similarly, environmental factors such as heavy rainfall or temperature changes can cause soil to shift and destabilize. The failure to install a protective system like a trench box or shield can also lead to trench collapse injury.
Although those causes are common, they are not the only hazards to look out for when working in trenches. Other safety risks for these workers can include:
- Falls – Actively working in or around the trench, like pulling signs, installing the barriers, or trying to cross the trench.
- Floods – When heavy rain or accidentally busting or rupturing an underground water pipe
- Electrical – like underground water pipes, there are electrical ones as well. Any underground utility like electrical power lines, wiring can create a major risk of electrocution.
- Pneumatic Conditions – Exposure to toxic fumes or chemicals that excavating may reveal.
Trench Accident Injuries
The injuries that result from such accidents can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe head and spinal injuries. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately, even if the injury appears to be minor. Delaying treatment can lead to complications that can affect your overall health adversely.
After seeking medical attention, the injured worker should immediately report the accident to their supervisor or employer. This will enable the employer to file a claim with the workers’ compensation carrier. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for medical expenses and wage replacement benefits. However, if the accident was caused by the negligence of an individual or organization, the worker may be entitled to additional compensation through a personal injury suit.
In a trench accident, preserving the site as evidence is essential until investigators arrive. Taking pictures of the site and documenting the conditions can help prove your case if you file a personal injury suit. It is also essential to collect information about the equipment used at the site, the qualifications of the workers, and the safety measures put in place. This information can be used in court to determine liability for the accident.
It is important to note that trench accidents can be prevented if safety measures are taken seriously. Employers should provide workers with the necessary safety equipment, such as helmets, safety harnesses, and goggles, to ensure they use them at all times. Employers should also ensure that workers receive proper training and understand the hazards involved in trench work. Regular inspections of trenches should be done, and any unsafe conditions should be rectified immediately.
Trench Accident Prevention
1. Understand the risks: Trenches are inherently unstable; even a seemingly stable trench can collapse without warning. Before beginning work on a trench, conducting a soil analysis and identifying any potential hazards is essential. Doing this will help you identify the appropriate safety measures to prevent accidents.
2. Create a safe atmosphere: Before starting any work, it is essential to have a safety plan in place. This plan should include guidelines on adequately using protective equipment such as helmets, gloves, and harnesses. In addition, a plan should be in place to ensure that the work environment is safe and free from any potential hazards.
3. Follow OSHA Standards: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set various standards for trench safety. Complying with OSHA standards is critical in preventing trench accidents. Some safety measures required by OSHA include placing barricades and warning signs around the trench, having a trained rescue worker on-site, and providing proper access and egress for employees.
4. Train employees properly: Employees working near or in a trench should be adequately trained on trench safety. This training should include the recognition of potential hazards and properly using and caring for safety equipment. It’s crucial to ensure that all employees understand the importance of following and taking safety protocols seriously.
5. Regular safety inspections: It would be best if you had regular inspections to ensure that safety measures are in place and maintained. This includes inspecting trenches for any signs of instability, ensuring that protective equipment is in good condition, and employees follow safety protocols. Regular checks will help identify and correct any issues before they can cause an accident.
People injured or have loved ones injured are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, damages, and related expenses. Our attorneys can provide clear guidance and honest advice inside and outside the courtroom. We will also keep you informed every step of the way.