If you work on a construction crew, you have probably been in and around many trenches during your career. These trenches are often vital for construction, as they allow workers to build foundations, run wires and pipes, access subterranean structures and accomplish other tasks. You may not be around when others dig the trench, though.
While it is generally acceptable to trust a trench, trenches continue to collapse at an unacceptable rate in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single square yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. This fact makes trench collapses exceedingly difficult to survive.
Arguably, weak walls are the most common cause of trench collapses on construction sites. If workers do not use strong enough barriers to contain the pressure behind the wall, the trench may fall into itself. Regrettably, changing soil conditions can cause a once-strong wall to become too weak to be effective.
As you know, water is heavy. During torrential rains, soil conditions are likely to change significantly. As soil becomes heavier and more slippery, it can easily break through trench walls. Consequently, it is rarely advisable to enter a construction trench during or immediately after inclement weather.
Heavy machines make your construction job much easier. If you drive a loader or bulldozer close to a construction trench, though, you may inadvertently cause the trench to fail. Likewise, when you are filling in sections of the trench, heavy machinery may cause other parts of it to collapse unexpectedly.
Ultimately, if you suffer a catastrophic injury in a trench collapse, you may be eligible for significant workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of why the collapse happens.