Trench & Building Collapse Lawyers

Trench and building collapses can cause catastrophic injuries or death to construction workers. Many trenching contractors are not in compliance with the standards for this type of work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Protective systems involving sloping, shielding, or shoring are supposed to be used when excavating five feet deep or more. However, some workers do not use cave-in protection because the employer finds it inconvenient. If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a trench or building collapse, contact our team of lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt immediately. Call 1-800-590-5151.

Causes of Trench & Building Collapse

Trouble typically follows situations where construction companies fail to train, supervise, or provide their employees with basic safety equipment necessary to safely conduct their jobs. OSHA, the regulatory agency for all construction projects, has very specific safety requirements for all excavation and trenching work. Among the safety precautions found in 29 CFR 1926.652 relating to trenching and excavation:

  • Use wall retaining devices (trench box) to prevent the walls of the excavated area from collapsing
  • Analyze soil conditions prior to the commencement of work
  • Locate the presence of utilities such as: electric lines or gas lines prior to excavation
  • Test air quality for oxygen levels and presence of other toxic gases such as carbon monoxide
  • Provide a safe way for workers to enter and exit the construction area
  • Inspect excavation areas following a rain
  • Prohibit the use of overhead work/suspended loads above the trenching area
  • Provide barriers and fencing around the trenching area to prevent workers and machinery from falling into the area under excavation
  • Require all workers in the area to wear hard hats

Of the 488 deaths between 1992-2000, 68% were at companies with 50 or fewer workers. 46% of the fatalities were at small companies with 10 or fewer workers. Many of the fatalities and injuries that happen occur at small construction companies that may not be providing the correct safety equipment or procedures.

Know Your Rights

Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Construction workers have the right to:

  • Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
  • Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA’s rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.
  • Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.

If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a trench or building collapse, don’t hesitate to contact our team today by either filling out our form or calling 1-800-590-4116. We are hard-working lawyers for hard-working people.

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