The Bureau of Labor Statistics has indicated that in the decade from 2000 through 2009, there were 350 workers who died in accidents caused by trenching collapses. The majority of these deaths occurred in trenches that were less than 10 feet deep. Because a cubic yard of dirt may weigh more than 3,000 pounds, a cave-in during an Oklahoma trenching project can have devastating results.
Death and injury to workers during digging projects are preventable. OSHA standards provide precautions that must be taken during excavation and trenching work. Among them are protective gear for the laborers, safe work practices and engineering controls. Because a failure of the trench can occur with no warning and can be fatal, this area requires specific attention.
In order to prevent a collapse, there are a number of methods from which the work site supervisors can choose. Among them are shielding the trench with a trench box, sloping the ground and bracing the hole with planking or hydraulic jacks. Workers are cautioned never to enter a hole or a trench that has not been sufficiently protected from a cave-in.
Evacuation and trench failures are just two of the thousands of hazards that workers face every day. Workplace accidents are often preventable, and it is the responsibility of the employers as well as the workers to make sure that safety rules are enacted, understood and followed. When an accident happens and a worker is not able to return to the job, workers' compensation benefits may be available to cover the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation and therapy. An attorney who has experience in these matters can be of assistance to a client who was injured on the job both during the filing process and in subsequent hearings should the claim be disputed or denied.