Working in trenches is part of the job for many Arizona residents. Most construction companies will take the proper safety precautions to help ensure that those workers do not suffer injuries or die in a collapse. Even so, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that construction accidents from trench collapses are up this year.
According to OSHA, 23 people died and 12 others suffered injuries in trench collapses this year across the United States. These accidents have a high mortality rate due to the weight of the earth involved. For example, one cubic yard of earth weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Workers suffer crush injuries under that amount of weight.
One of the most recent deaths occurred in Ohio. A 33-year-old man who was digging in a trench was crushed under the weight of thousands of pounds of earth when its walls gave way. The plumbing company in charge of the dig failed to provide cave-in protection for its employees, and this was not the first time. Earlier the same day, a worker barely escaped when a portion of the trench collapsed. Cave-in protection was also not provided at a site the previous month, and it also collapsed.
It is the responsibility of every company putting its workers into trenches to do whatever they can to prevent these types of construction accidents. When a worker is killed or suffers serious injuries, workers' compensation benefits are typically available to help with the financial losses incurred as a result. Even so, it would be advisable to discuss the matter with an Arizona workers' compensation attorney. If the employer's conduct is found to have been willful or reckless, as appears to have been the case in the Ohio incident, it might be possible to file a claim for additional damages through the civil justice system.
Source: safety.blr.com, "Construction employer alert: Trench deaths spiked in 2016", Nov. 21, 2016