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Legal Blog

Trench Accidents

Excavation and trenching operations are considered two of the most hazardous activities in the construction field. Workers who dig or excavate trenches must face the risk of cave-ins, which are responsible for dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. In separate incidents in Cypress and Lockhart this year, two construction workers were killed when the trenches they were excavating collapsed. The reality is that the majority of trench accidents can be prevented when the proper precautions are taken.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a trench accident, contact our experienced Houston workplace accident lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. We will help you file a claim and obtain compensation for your injuries. Call us today at (281) 283-8500.

Dangers of Trench Accidents

Workers responsible for excavating trenches face a number of hazards including cave-ins, falls, being struck by equipment, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and transportation accidents. By far, the greatest risk in trench and excavation-related work comes from cave-ins.

From 2005-2009, 350 workers were killed in trenching or excavation cave-ins, an average of 35 workers per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common type of excavation work that results in injury or death involves water, sewer, pipeline, communications, and power-line construction. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data from 1997-2001 revealed that 64 percent of fatalities in trenches during that time period occurred at depths of less than 10 feet.

OSHA Requirements

OSHA requires that trenches 5 feet or deeper have a protective system unless the excavation consists entirely of stable rock. Protective systems protect workers from potentially be exposed to cave-ins by:

  • Sloping or benching the sides of the excavation,
  • Supporting the sides of the excavation, or
  • Placing a shield between the side of the excavation and the work area.

Under OHSA standards, employers must ensure that a competent person inspects trenches daily, before the start of a shift, and as weather conditions change to help protect workers against any potential dangers.

Common Causes of Trench Collapses

The leading cause of trench collapses is the lack of a protective system. Other factors that can contribute to the likelihood of a trench cave-ins include:

  • Unstable or weak soil
  • Vibrations from equipment, machines, or motor vehicles
  • Having heavy equipment or machinery located too close to trench edges
  • Failure of a protective system due to equipment defects or damage
  • Proximity to previous backfilled excavations
  • Water content of soil
  • Environmental factors such as weather conditions or climate
  • Stress loading on the soil
  • Failure to regularly inspect the trench
  • Lack of proper safety equipment
  • Depth of the trench

Contact an Experienced Houston Work Accident Lawyer for Help

Employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace. When unsafe conditions, inadequate safety equipment or protocol, or negligence results in a serious trench accident, the consequences can be devastating for workers. If you’ve been injured in a trench accident that was caused by the negligence of your employer or a third party, you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston work accident lawyers have extensive experience helping injured workers obtain the compensation they deserve. We can explain your legal options, investigate your work-related accident, and help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our goal is to help you recover the maximum compensation possible for your injuries and losses so that you have the resources necessary for recovery.

Contact us today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule your free consultation.