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April 5th, 2016

PA Work & Construction Accidents – Trenching and Excavation Cave-Ins and Injuries

Trenching and excavation are often required at many construction sites in Pennsylvania.  Per OSHA, excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal, and a trench is a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Trenches are necessary for installation of power lines, sewers and wires.  They are also necessary to gain access to existing underground structures.  Excavation and trenching often pose dangerous risks for workers, and it is imperative that employers take extra safety precautions to avoid trenching and excavation accidents.

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation

One of the most common accidents related to excavation and trenching is a trench collapse or cave-in.  A trench collapse occurs when walls supporting a trench lose stability and fall into the trench.  Other accidents related to excavation and trenching include falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, falls and accidents involving mobile equipment.

See client review of Paul Bucci, partner at the firm, from a construction worker who was injured in a Pennsylvania trench collapse accident.

OSHA Regulations Regarding Trenches

OSHA regulates trenching and excavation activities at construction and worksites to ensure safe working conditions.  For instance, trenches 5 feet deep or greater must include a protective system, unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock.  The following are different types of protective systems:

  • Sloping -the trench wall is cut back at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
  • Shoring – installation of aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins.
  • Shielding – trench boxes or other types of supports are used to protect the workers to prevent soil cave-ins.

In addition to the different protective systems, OSHA regulations also require that trenches are inspected daily by a competent person prior to work.  Because conditions change, the competent person must inspect the trenches to eliminate any potential hazards.  For instance, it may have rained the night before causing a trench to flood and become unstable.

Injuries from Trench Cave-Ins

When a trench caves in, construction workers in the trench often sustain serious, if not fatal injuries.  Workers in the trench may be trapped and do not have enough oxygen supply.  Workers may also be crushed by the walls during a cave-in and may die as a result.

Help After a PA Trench Collapse Accident

If you were injured in a trench cave-in accident at a construction site in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, it is best to talk to an experienced work accident lawyer.  Paul Bucci, Esq. and his partners at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan are dedicated to helping injured workers in PA.  Our work accident lawyers offer a FREE consultation. (866) 641-0806

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