Trenches are common on construction sites in and around Long Island, as contractors routinely use them to repair roads, build foundations and install utility lines. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trench collapses kill an average of nearly 20 individuals every single year.
If construction crews do not take steps to prevent a trench collapse, a worker or someone else may sustain a life-threatening injury. Understanding why trenches tend to collapse is the first step to avoiding a catastrophe.
Some soil types simply are not ideal for supporting trenches. If soil is abnormally dry, it may not hold together well enough for a crew to dig a stable channel. On the other hand, soil with excessive moisture may be too heavy for normal tench walls to contain. This fact may make trenches more dangerous in wet spring and summer months.
To dig a trench quickly, many construction crews use heavy equipment, such as backhoes or skidsteers. A construction worker may also bring in a truck or crane to work near a trench. Regrettably, heavy construction equipment may cause a trench to fail. That is, relocated soil around the trench site may not support the weight of heavy equipment.
Even if heavy equipment remains far from the trench, the vibration of trucks, loaders and cranes may make a trench unstable. Using a jackhammer near a trench may also cause the tunnel to collapse. Ultimately, because vibrations are common on construction sites, crews must regularly monitor trenches for signs of deterioration or stress.
Even if construction professionals work diligently to contain ground vibrations and reduce other collapse risks, accidents may still happen. Luckily, injured workers may be eligible for financial compensation to help them through their recovery processes.