Retaining walls are common features at construction sites in Arizona and around the country. Workers may build a retaining wall to keep the soil in the area stable and in place, either permanently or temporarily, while construction takes place or workers build a more permanent structure.
These structures can cause serious construction accidents when, whether because of a design flaw or some other defect, they cannot withstand the pressure of the soil behind them. Construction workers in the area of an unsteady retaining wall may suffer serious injuries should the wall collapse around them, dumping a heavy pile of debris and dirt.
In another state recently, a team of workers was excavating near a retaining wall while working on the construction of a new car wash. At some point, probably without warning, the wall crumbled. One worker was trapped against a dump truck as a result and had to be rescued. While his condition is presently unknown, a helicopter took the man to a nearby hospital following his rescue. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and local law enforcement officials are investigating.
The possibility that a retaining wall might collapse may, in some cases, simply be a risk that construction workers take while they are building a new building, however, employers still need to take all reasonable steps to ensure workers are as safe as possible, especially around temporary retaining walls.
All retaining walls need to be properly constructed so that they are not likely to collapse and employees need proper training so that they know both how to stay safe around the retaining wall and how to identify any warning sign that a wall is prone to a collapse.
For those construction workers in Arizona who have suffered injuries because of a poorly constructed retaining wall, workers' compensation may be available to them.
Source: The Courant, "Construction accident in Meriden injures worker, Lifestar called," July 18, 2013