2022 was a bad year for construction workers.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a total of 35 workers were killed in trench collapses – more than twice the number killed the year before. That officially makes 2022’s trench collapses deadlier than any year on OSHA’s record. The previous record, set in 2016, listed only 23 deaths.
What’s going on?
Trenching accidents are a significant safety concern in the construction industry. Trenches are often dug to install underground utilities, such as water and sewer lines, or for building foundations. One of the main reasons for the increase in trenching accidents is the growing demand for construction work. Workers are sometimes pushed to take shortcuts and skip a few safety precautions by bosses who are watching the clock (and their bottom dollar). That can lead to failures to brace a trench properly, skipped safety inspections between shifts, improper soil or heavy material storage and other issues that can cause a collapse.
The lack of proper training and supervision is another issue. Since construction is booming, companies are hiring anybody they can find that can do the job – but they may not stop to train those new employees the way that they should. Workers inadequately trained on proper trenching safety may be unaware of the potential dangers, and inexperienced workers may not recognize warning signs of a potential trench collapse or understand how to react.
Furthermore, there is a lack of awareness and compliance with trenching safety regulations. Workers may not be aware of the specific safety requirements and standards for trenching work, which can lead to non-compliance with regulations – or the assumption that everything is okay simply because nobody is stopping them from climbing in.
Finally, trenches are often dug in areas with high foot traffic, and the public may not be aware of the dangers associated with trenching work, which can also lead to accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a construction accident or your loved one was killed, you do have legal recourse. You have every right to ask for full and fair compensation for your losses so that your family can have what it needs to move forward.