Morristown Trench & Excavation Accident Attorney
Trenching and excavation are required on just about any construction project, whether for burying cable, pouring a foundation or installing underground utilities. Trenching and excavation are also among the most dangerous jobs that can be found at a construction site. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that about 1,000 trench collapses occur every year, with as much as five to ten percent of those accidents causing fatalities.
Workers’ compensation can help workers injured on the job at a New Jersey, but workers’ comp only covers medical bills and a portion of lost wages. If you are injured in a trench or excavation accident, it is likely your injuries are very severe and costly. The Morristown trench and excavation accident attorney at the Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff, P.A., can help you determine whether you may have a civil claim against a negligent third party. If this is the case, we can help you recover the full range of legal damages available to you, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
What’s the Difference Between Trenching and Excavation?
According to OSHA, an excavation is any human-made cut, cavity or depression in the surface of the earth which is formed by the removal of soil, sand or other material. Any excavation which is deeper than it is wide is defined as a trench. Trenches that are more than five feet deep must include sloping, shoring, benching or shielding as appropriate to keep the trench stable. Trenches should be inspected for stability before their use every time.
It’s only a matter of time before the walls of a trench collapse, according to OSHA. It is therefore vital for worker safety to keep trenches open only for as long as necessary – minutes if possible and hours at the most. Tragically, untrained or careless contractors may send workers into a trench long after it should be closed, wrongly believing it to be stable or simply recklessly indifferent to the safety of workers.
Who Causes Trench and Excavation Accidents?
Construction sites are hectic, busy places with lots of different parties and subcontractors coming and going. The general contractor may specifically hire excavating contractors to dig a trench or conduct other excavation operations on a job site. Excavating contractors will typically be responsible for preparing the site, grading, trenching, storing dirt or hauling it away, and operating all equipment necessary to carry out these functions. Excavators need to remove soil to a specific depth required for the foundation. Depending on the soil, the surface may need to be compacted as well. Workers will use a level and transit to make sure the specified grade is achieved. Trenching and excavation duties also include backfilling the foundation once footings have been poured.
Other trench and excavation activities include excavating ditches for water and gas lines or installing flexible piping through trenchers without digging ditches. Excavators operate a wide range of heavy and potentially dangerous machinery, including bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders, trenchers, compactors, skid loaders and dump trucks.
What are the Risks to Construction Workers of Trenching and Excavation Accidents?
The number one risk to workers related to trenching and excavation is a trench collapse. Just one cubic yard of soil can weigh thousands of pounds, far more than enough to suffocate, crush, break bones or collapse lungs. Other dangers include:
- Getting struck by falling objects when rocks or tools are left near the edge of the trench
- Cave-ins caused by improper shoring or leaving mounds of soil or heavy equipment near the edge
- Electrocution caused by hitting underground electrical wires
- Burn injuries due to striking underground gas lines
- Drowning and flooding from hitting buried plumbing pipes or excavating into the water table
- Suffocation or asphyxiation from gases or working in an unventilated trench
Site managers and independent third-parties can be liable for allowing these accidents to happen due to negligent trenching and excavation, lack of training or supervision, or other inexcusable, deadly mistakes such as failing to provide a ladder, ramp or exit route out of the trench or pit. Michael P. Burakoff is an experienced Morristown construction accident attorney who knows how to investigate a trenching or excavation accident and bring a claim for compensation against the proper responsible party.
Contact a Morris County Trench & Excavation Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trenching or excavation accident at a New Jersey construction worksite, call the Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff, P.A. in Morristown, Newton or West New York for a free consultation. We only charge a fee if we recover for you.