Trenches and excavations can be some of the most dangerous locations on the job for construction workers in New Jersey. A number of workplace accidents and injuries take place in these underground depressions, cuts and cavities created through the moving of massive quantities of earth. While the construction industry can pose a significant risk of on-the-job injuries due to the use of heavy machinery, engagement in intense physical labor and the incomplete structures involved, trenches and excavations pose a particular risk of collapses and cave-ins.
This risk to workplace safety has grown in recent years. In 2016, the number of fatalities caused by trench cave-ins doubled the average that had remained steady over the previous five years. Since 2011, approximately two construction workers every month have been killed due to cave-ins at excavation and trench locations. Responding to the increased threat, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified the improvement of safety for workers in trenches and excavations as a priority for 2018.
As trench safety is a priority for the year, OSHA will raise awareness about what employers can do to improve safety and the preventive technologies that can be used in order to avoid workplace accidents. Some construction industry advisers have laid the blame for the increased casualties on workers, attributing issues to ignorance about safety rules and a lack of supervision. However, construction workers have noted that a lack of inspections and enforcement of federal safety rules have allowed unsafe practices to proliferate.
People who have been injured on the job can suffer severe consequences as a result, including lifelong disabilities. Injured workers have a right to seek compensation for their losses; a workers’ compensation lawyer may help people who have been hurt on the job seek justice and recompense for their medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.