Victims of Trenching and Excavation Accidents
The attorneys at Basch & Keegan handle all types of construction accident cases, including personal injury and wrongful death claims involving trenching and excavation accidents. Based in Kingston, NY, we represent injured workers throughout the entire Hudson Valley.
Trench Collapses Cause Hundreds of Injuries Each Year
Trenching and excavation are among the most hazardous construction practices. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide.
According to OSHA, the walls of any trench will eventually collapse—it’s merely a matter of time. Therefore, trenches should only be open for a period of minutes or hours (at a maximum). Unfortunately, however, a trench’s apparent stability is often enough for a contractor to send workers into a dangerous trench in hopes of fast progress and financial gain.
Serious injury or death is too often the result of prioritizing profit over safety. Trench and excavation accidents frequently involve:
- Trench collapse
- Trench cave-ins
- Sidewall collapse
- Falls into trenches or excavation sites
- Falling loads from above a trench or excavation site
- Hazardous atmospheres – including toxic fumes and water accumulation
- Failure to provide a ramp or ladder for escape
- Use of heavy machinery near an excavation site
OSHA estimates that trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. To prevent accidents, trenches are to be inspected daily and as conditions change, in order to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. Inspections should occur before workers enter any trench or excavation site.
Extra Safety Measures Must be Taken with Deep Trenches
When digging trenches deeper than five feet, contractors must take appropriate safety measures to protect workers. Practices such as benching, sloping, shoring, and shielding can make trenches safer – but these safety systems must be executed properly to make any positive difference. If a contractor or construction company attempts but fails to follow OSHA safety guidelines—in design or execution—responsible parties may still be held liable for worker injuries.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a trench collapse or excavation accident in Greene, Dutchess, Ulster, or the surrounding counties, please contact Basch & Keegan for a free initial consultation. We handle even the most complex construction accident cases involving catastrophic injuries and complicated facts.