Working in a trench often feels safe and secure because it just feels like another level of the job site. Even if the trench is higher than your head, you can see other workers just a few feet away. It doesn’t seem like everything is about to go wrong.
However, if you watch videos of trench collapse incidents, one thing that stands out is just how quickly they occur. There’s often no warning at all, and then thousands of pounds of mud, dirt, clay and other materials can flood the trench. Workers who are at the bottom often have no chance to avoid this collapse or to get out of the way.
How many fatal accidents happen every year?
While many workers are rescued, it’s also true that many of these incidents result in fatal injuries. In some cases, this is due to the injuries incurred during the collapse. In other cases, it’s because workers cannot be dug out in time. But it happens a lot, and 21 workers have lost their lives in trench accidents the last two years in a row. 2016 was one of the most dangerous years on record, with 33 deaths.
And again, this is only considering the trench collapses that have led to fatalities. How many other workers have suffered serious injuries? How many are now disabled or will never be able to return to their profession? There is a severe risk to working in a trench, regardless of the size and the safety procedures that have been put in place.
What can you do?
If you have been seriously injured or if you have lost a loved one in a trench collapse, then it is important to know what steps you can take to seek workers’ compensation.