Each year, many people lose their lives in trench collapse accidents.
Trenches are one of the most dangerous places to work in. In fact, each year, many people lose their lives in trench collapse accidents. It is unfortunate that while trench collapse deaths are easily preventable, a large number of these deaths still occur each year. Some common causes of trench related injuries and deaths are:
- Pressures of time and money
- Lack of supervision
- Ignorance to safety rules
- Laziness or general negligence
Having provided St. Louis trench shoring services on various work sites, we have realized that some sites have very poor operational and safety procedures for working in trenches. Many people do not even understand the basic safety requirements. They are supposed to provide a means of egress at a depth of 4 feet, and proper protective systems at 5 feet deep. However, many are not even aware of these basics, and they tend to compromise the safety of workers.
Most construction companies claim that safety comes first. However, all too often this is not reflect in their actions. Each year, a large number of trench collapse deaths are reported. In 2016, more trench collapse deaths were reported than the previous year. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 2016 saw more trench collapse deaths than 2014 and 2015 combined. There were 11 deaths each reported in 2014 and 2015, while there were 23 deaths in 2016. While the numbers seem shocking, they also highlight the urgent need to take appropriate safety measures.
In all these years of providing St. Louis trench shoring services, we have come to understand that trench collapses happen pretty fast and have devastating consequences. Consider this – a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. You can therefore imagine the amount of damage it can inflict.
In a statement released by OSHA, it was quoted that trench fatalities have more than doubled since 2015, which is an unacceptable and alarming trend. One OSHA official said, ”There is no excuse. These fatalities are completely preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every construction contractor should know.” (Source)
While the construction company is primarily responsible for the safety of all workers, it is also the responsibility of everyone else to follow proper safety practices and standards. Recently, a general contractor and foreman were convicted of criminal negligence after a laborer died in a trench collapse accident in New York. Apart from facing criminal negligence charges, companies may also have to pay huge fines. A company in Ohio had to pay more than $200,000 after a worker was crushed to death in a trench collapse last year. The company had failed to provide appropriate trench cave-in protection, failed to train employees in recognizing hazards, and failed to protected employees from excavated material rolling into a trench or falling from inside the trench walls.