What Is a Trench Collapse?

Trench collapses are among the most deadly of construction accidents. When certain safeguards are not used to prevent trench collapse accidents, workers can be buried alive by falling dirt and debris. Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 271 workers died in trenching or excavation cave-ins from 2000 through 2006.

Injuries and deaths from trench collapses can be prevented when proper inspections are made, trenches are carefully excavated, and when safeguards are put in place. For example, OSHA requires that a “competent person” inspect the job site for potential cave-ins, failure of protective systems or equipment, or other dangers. If a worker is sent into a trench that is more than four feet deep, a fixed means of egress must be provided, such as a ladder. Spacing between ladders or other means of egress must be such that a worker will not have to travel more than 25 feet laterally to the nearest means of egress.

Additionally, trenches must be sloped to ensure that there is no risk of a cave-in or collapse. They may also be reinforced by trench boxes or shoring sufficient to withstand the weight if the sides collapse. The safety requirements for safe trenching and excavations may be found at OSHA’s website, section 29 CFR 1926.651.

How Can a Trench Collapse Lawyer Help Your Case?

In 2012, the firm at which trench collapse accident lawyer John Mattiacci practices obtained a $7 million dollar verdict on behalf of a union laborer injured in a trench collapse. John Dooley, owner of the firm, was lead trial counsel. The worker suffered severe injuries because the trench did not have a trench box, shoring, nor was it sloped to avoid an accident. A jury in Gloucester County, New Jersey returned a verdict of $7 million against the defendant for negligence, including the defendant’s failure to abide by OSHA regulations.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a similar accident, contact John Mattiacci for a free consultation. Our firm has proven results in handling these cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Video of A Trench Collapse

Here is a frightening video of a near-miss captured by Oregon OSHA.