Excavated ground cave-ins can be fatal, even when they appear unlikely. As a result, extra caution is required when performing outdoor trenching exercises. Trenching is a common construction activity that necessitates a narrow excavation of the soil.
Although the width of the excavation is usually not wide, collapses are common due to its long depth. Trench collapses, also known as cave-ins, have serious consequences. They can result in injuries, death, or other incidents such as electrocution, inhalation of toxic fumes, and asphyxiation.
The best way to prevent such occurrences is to prevent them in the first place, as well as to gather information about them beforehand.
Identifying Trenches and Excavations
Excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface formed by earth removal. In contrast, a trench is a narrow cavity formed by digging, cutting, or scooping the topsoil. A trench’s width is typically limited to about 15 feet, but its depth can be enormous.
As difficult as trenches can be if dug without the proper excavation equipment, cave-ins can also occur if the proper construction components and methods are not used while digging a trench or excavation. To ensure these are avoided, experts in shoring components, workplace safety, soil classifications, and weather conditions must be hired to handle excavations.
There are specific regulations that must be followed to protect both workers and employers. The effective application of these regulations ensures that cave-ins are avoided, and they include:
- Excavation sides should not be steeper than 1½:1. This means that for every foot of excavated depth, it must be increased by one and a half feet.
- A qualified engineer must determine that the excavation is far enough away from a structure and that it will not be affected by any excavation activity.
- The employer must provide workers with assistance in the event of a workplace injury.
- A sloping and benching system must be provided for every excavation exercise.
- Any excavation activity must not endanger the workers.
Failure to protect workers during excavation can result in hazards, which is a willful violation of OSHA regulations. Any willful disregard for the law’s requirements, intentional knowledge, or plain indifference is considered a willful violation, and you deserve compensation.
If your employer willfully violates the law regarding cave-in prevention and general workplace safety, you have the right to seek legal redress. And, given the complexities of cases like these, you’ll need the help of an experienced attorney to get the justice you deserve. To get started, give us a call 718-273-9000 or fill our contact form.