Trench collapses are dangerous, but they are also in some cases preventable. Still, workers are seriously injured or killed every year when trenches in which they are working collapse and cave in on top of them. There are safety mandates governing this type of work that are designed to help prevent such tragedies, but unfortunately, the accidents continue to occur.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 350 workers were killed in trench collapses between 2000 and 2009. These accidents are especially insidious because there is normally little or no warning of an impending collapse. Even a cubic yard of dirt can exert enough pressure to cause death when it falls on a worker.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulations in place governing trench work. Unfortunately, these regulations are sometimes ignored. According to OSHA, 64 percent of the fatalities that took place between 1997 and 2001 occurred in shallow depths rather than deep ones. Those most at risk include workers involved in excavation, pipe, sewer line installation, building power lines and installing underground communication wires.
People who are injured or the families of those killed in workplace accidents may have valid claims for recovery through mandated workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is designed specifically to provide relief for injured workers as well as the families of those who die as a result of q workplace accident or illness. Depending on the facts of the case, benefits may be available to pay for all medical expenses, ongoing rehabilitation or treatment costs, associated prosthetic devices, disability benefits for those rendered unable to work and others. Families of those killed may be able to recover death and funeral expenses as well as ongoing monthly payments to replace the income lost by their loved one’s death.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“Preventing Worker Deaths from Trench Cave-ins”, accessed on Feb. 3, 2015