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Trench Collapses are Rare, but Often Fatal, in New Jersey

Construction sites are notoriously dangerous. Workers often go above and beyond when it comes to safety – hardhats, eye protection, steel-toed work boots and gloves. Unfortunately, staying alert and aware of your surroundings on a construction site doesn’t ward off accidents.
A good example of this would be the trench collapse. Workers must rely on those who construct the trench to make sure it’s safe. When trenches collapse, the result is often fatal injuries to the construction workers who get trapped by the collapsed trench.
In fact, three people have died in recent months in New Jersey, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also reported that In 2013, 22 people died in the US because of trench cave-ins or excavation accidents, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Incidents are rare but usually fatal.
The most recent accident occurred when a worker on a Plainfield construction site was constructing a drainage line around the foundation of a home. The trench, which was eight feet deep and three feet wide, collapsed on top of him and he was buried in the dirt. Firefighters and medics tried to get to him, but all rescue attempts failed.
Last fall, another worker died when a 10-foot trench collapsed on top of him. Once again, the worker was installing a drainage pipe at a residential home. In this case, his employer was cited for 10 safety violations by OSHA.
OSHA has put out specific guidelines for trenches on construction sites. The agency says that, when followed properly, the safety guidelines should prevent trench collapses “100 percent” of the time.

  • All trenches must be at least four feet deep with ladders, steps or other means for employees to get out of the trench
  • For trenches five feet and deeper, OSHA mandates protective systems be in place. Systems can be “trench boxes that shield workers or hydraulic support structures that shore up the sides of the excavation.” (If the excavation is made of rock, this guideline may be waived.)
  • All trenches must be constructed with the soil sloping at an angle away from the job site.
  • When possible, the walls of the trench should form large steps that lead away from the excavation site and out of the trench.

When it comes to construction site accidents, it’s critical that everyone take a “safety first” mentality. Failure to heed OSHA’s warnings and follow the agencies guidelines often result in disastrous injuries for construction workers.
If you or someone you love was injured in a worksite accident, you have a right to file for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Contact a savvy Workers’ Comp lawyer who will fight for maximum compensation for your injuries. Call Lombardi and Lombardi today for a free consultation about your case.

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