Trenches are often an essential part of many construction projects throughout NYC and Long Island. Unfortunately, many contractors risk worker safety in order to speed a job along or cut costs. When a trench is not properly fortified with a retaining wall and/or other structural reinforcements or such reinforcements are not properly inspected, a collapse is always possible. Failing to abide by the rules set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in regards to trench safety makes for an unsafe work environment and exposes employers and contractors to liability for any resulting accident. A trench collapse accident is often fatal as the weight of the thousands of pounds of dirt can easily crush an individual.
Trenches are often built on construction sites for numerous reasons, and when one collapses, it can result in grave injuries. A trench collapse or cave-in accident can be fatal or leave a worker seriously injured. It is vital for worksite supervisors to ensure that trenches are properly braced and that there are ample exit points for workers in case the trench collapses.
Trenches, even ones that are no more than chest deep, pose a high risk of injury and fatality to construction workers if the proper safety measures are not in place to guard against cave-ins and other terrible incidents. Unfortunately, not all construction sites are tightly regulated, and trench accidents cause too many injuries and fatalities each year.
New York State Law Related to Trenches
At a construction site in New York, proper safety regulations must be complied with to minimize the likelihood of trench cave-ins. A mere rainy day can weaken a trench and its supports sufficiently to cause a tragic collapse of the trench, burying the workers, and often times, asphyxiating them under tons of debris including soil, rocks and construction debris. If there is heavy equipment working at the site of the trench, a weakening of the trench can cause the equipment to fall into the collapsed trench, and crush the workers therein.
Moreover, trenches are the sites of pipes, electrical wires and sewers pipes, which lend added risk of electrocution and drowning to the workers in the trenches. The construction laws of New York have been passed in an effort to promulgate safety rules that are meant to minimize the risk of these accidents, which often lead to death or severe injuries from which a worker seldom recovers.
Labor Law section 240(1) may apply in a trench accident where an object falls on a worker or a worker falls from a height into a trench. However, equally important to the type of accidents that can occur in a trench, is Labor Law section 241(6), which imposes liability on an owner or general contractor for violation of a safety rule of Art. 23 of the N.Y Industrial Code.
The causes of many trench accidents are the improper preparation or maintenance of a trench, in violation of the safety regulations in the Industrial Code. Added to these causes, is the misplacement of heavy equipment close to a trench, which is also a violation of the safety rules.
If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries from a Construction Accident, you should consult with a New York Trench Accident Attorney as you may be entitled to a large money award.