Construction accidents can happen in numerous ways, with the most common earning the somber name of the Fatal Four. The first three are falls, impact from objects and electrocution. The fourth, “caught-in/between,” encompasses a broader scope. It involves a person being compressed from or becoming stuck under a material, structure or equipment.
This category may come in last, comprising only 5.1% of all construction accidents, according to OSHA, but it still makes the top four for good reason. An example of this type is excavation and trenching accidents.
Due to the nature of the job, most incidents involve cave-ins and collapses, which impose the highest risk of death. Other dangers that can occur in a trench or excavation site include the following:
- Workers falling
- Loads falling
- Equipment striking or pinning workers, or malfunctioning
- Atmosphere becoming hazardous
Digging requires specific methods and tools, or protective systems, to reduce the likelihood of a cave-in or another tragedy. For large projects, professional engineers must design or approve the system for maximum security. Factors that go into the design are the classification and water content of the soil, the state of the weather, how deep the cut is, other work happening nearby and necessary materials to dig.
An experienced person must check the area daily to catch and correct potential dangers. Examples include rainfall, underground utilities and toxic gases. Workers must have a safe and nearby way to enter and exit the site. Heavy machinery and surcharge loads must not be near the edges of the trench.
Most of these safety measures seem like common sense, and yet many employers and other relevant construction parties fail to follow them. If you sustain an injury in an excavation or trenching accident, you can seek financial compensation from those responsible. You are not the only person accountable for your safety.