Trench collapses kill an average of two workers each month. The inherent risks involved with digging trenches is why the US Department of Labor considers trenching to be among the most dangerous types of work in the country.
Trench collapse is a problem that hits close to home.
This past month, a construction worker in Decatur was trapped for over two hours when the trench he was working in collapsed on top of him. The collapse buried him 20 feet underground as he was attempting to conduct work for the Decatur Sanitary District. Fortunately, firefighters were able to extract him from the collapsed soil and transport him to St. John's Hospital where he was treated and released. It is a story with a happy ending, but workers' compensation lawyers in Algonquin know that is not often the case when workers are trapped so deep, for so long.
OSHA Guidelines Don't Always Protect Workers
OSHA guidelines require that workers have easy access and egress within all excavations. Further, companies are required to test for low-oxygen levels the presence of toxic gases, and to inspect trenches following snow or rainfall. Companies are also required to keep heavy equipment far away from open trenches, and to issue their employee with high-visibility clothing when the trench is being dug in close proximity to vehicular traffic.
These guidelines are designed to ensure the structural safety of the trench and the health of the workers who ply their trade below the surface of the ground. Companies that fail to adhere to these guidelines place their employees at risk of serious injury or death. When an employer deliberately ignores these guidelines, a workers' compensation lawyer in Algonquin can hold them liable for the personal injuries and damage their negligence causes.
Trenching violations are common in Illinois and most recently, Ferro, a Joliet construction company was cited by OSHA for allowing employees to work in trenches that were not properly shored and shielded with cave-in protection measures. The company was also cited due to the fact that their trenches did not provide easy egress for workers. OSHA fined Ferro $104,756 for their repeated violations of standard safety protocols. This was the 7th time since 1976 that Ferro was cited by OSHA for similar violations. In fact, four of these citations were issued in the past 15 years alone.