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Trench collapses pose safety danger to New Jersey construction workers

| May 26, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

People who don’t work in construction may think of construction site accidents as happening at great heights. Things like workers falling off of scaffolding or getting hit by a falling object. But not every part of a construction project takes place in the sky. A lot of work takes place at the ground level and below.

When digging or working in a trench, construction workers face potentially fatal injuries. Even though most contractors and subcontractors in New Jersey take reasonable precautions like reinforcing the walls, a trench can collapse without warning, burying anyone inside.

A bad construction trench can collapse in seconds

A video posted by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration office shows how quickly things can go wrong in a deep trench. The video was taken by an OSHA inspector visiting a road construction project. The inspector tells the crew that the trench was not properly prepared and immediately told them to get a man inside the hole to the surface. As they speak, dirt begins to spill into the hole. Fortunately, someone manages to get a ladder into the trench in time for the worker to climb out. Nobody was hurt, but watching the video, it’s easy to imagine what might have happened had the inspector not shown up.

All too common at U.S. worksites

Unfortunately, this is not a rare type of construction accident. Around 200 to 300 people are killed in trench failures at construction sites every year, making this one of the deadliest kinds of incidents that can happen at a construction site. Even if you survive a trench collapse, you could be left seriously injured by the weight of the dirt and other materials that fell on you. While you recover, you could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, though you might have to go through a legal fight first.