Construction site accidents can be a major source of workplace injuries for workers in New Jersey. One particular source of an increasing number of serious injuries and even fatalities is work in trenches and excavations. These underground cuts and caverns can involve removing tons of earth in order to create passageways for the laying of building foundations, creating piping or electrical lines and other important construction tasks. However, due to the sheer weight of earth removed and the subsequent risk of cave-ins, collapses, falls and other accidents, trenches and excavations can be dangerous places for workers.
In 2016, fatalities doubled as a result of on-the-job injuries in trenches and excavations. In the previous five years, two workers were killed every month as a result of trench and excavation accidents, most frequently collapses. As a result of the dangerous environment for construction workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified improvement in trench and excavation safety as a priority goal for 2018. As part of its work on the subject, OSHA is acting to build awareness about preventative technologies, safety rules and actions that employers can take to cut down on the threat of severe injuries and fatalities.
Some construction industry experts seek to blame workers for the accidents, claiming that “laziness” is a factor as well as a lack of knowledge of safety rules and insufficient supervision. However, workers’ organizations emphasize that a lack of inspections and enforcement of existing federal safety rules are major reasons for unsafe trenches at construction sites.
When a worker is injured on the job, they have a right to seek compensation for their medical bills and related damages. Construction workers who have been injured on the job may work with a workers compensation attorney to secure the compensation to which they are entitled and seek damages for safety violations.