NJ Trench Collapse Attorneys

Fighting for Victims of Trench Collapses and Shoring Failures

While trench collapses might not kill or injure nearly as many people nationwide as some other construction accidents, they are still a serious problem. These kinds of accidents are completely avoidable, so when they do occur, someone has been negligent. Because of this, the negligent party should be held liable for what happened.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trench collapse or shoring failure in New Jersey, workers' compensation can help with some of your expenses, but you may be able to file a civil claim against a negligent building owner, construction company, or subcontractor. Call us at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040 to talk about what happened and discuss your options.

What Is a Trench Collapse?

A trench collapse occurs when a trench dug into the ground begins to cave-in and fills in either completely or partially. Depending on the size of the trench, a collapse can either be a minor issue or extremely dangerous. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict guidelines on how trenches should be dug and secured in order to prevent collapses. Following these procedures can be somewhat complicated, however, since each trench is different and terrain and type of ground can impact how it can be secured.

The Dangers of Trench Collapses

A trench collapse might not seem as dangerous as a fall from a scaffold, especially if the trench is only a few feet deep. In order to fully appreciate the danger a trench collapse presents, consider this: just one cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds - about the same weight as a small car. When a trench 10 feet deep collapses in on a worker, it can crush him without any chance of escape, killing the person through suffocation well before others can rescue him.

In 2015, the number of trenching deaths across the country was just 11 - a relatively low number. In 2016, however, the number of fatalities more than doubled - again, all completely avoidable deaths. That should be deeply concerning for anyone working in the construction field.

Avoiding Trench Collapses

OSHA has clear guidelines that must be followed when digging and shoring up trenches. For one, any trench that is five feet deep or more must have a protective system, and any trench of 20 feet or deeper requires a system designed by a registered engineer. Protective systems include:

  • Sloping: This is the process of cutting the trench wall back at an angle away from the trench itself and is the simplest way to protect a trench.
  • Shoring: This involves the use of supports, such as aluminum, within the trench to keep the walls from collapsing inward.
  • Shielding: The use of trench boxes and similar structures within a trench protects workers from moving soil and the possibility of walls collapsing.
  • Inspections: Trenches must be inspected every day by a competent person who can identify potential hazards and dangers, as weather or ground conditions change.

Who Is Liable?

After a trench collapse, liability comes down to who acted in a negligent way and how that caused the collapse. If a construction company failed to properly train workers or did not provide adequate protective systems for trenches, then it may be liable for accidents that occur as a result of that negligence. Holding big companies accountable, however, can be difficult, which is why you need an experienced New Jersey construction accident attorney on your side.

For a free and confidential consultation, call right now at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040.

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