Last month, an Austin worker suffered injuries after a trench collapsed at his worksite. Firefighters rescued the man, whose leg was trapped underneath the trench. The firefighters have a station across the street and were able to respond to the emergency within minutes. According to Austin fire department officials, the worker was repairing a water line when the trench collapsed. Emergency personnel brought the injured worker to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.
Trench collapses cause injuries and deaths each year. Statistics published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that trench collapses killed 23 workers in 2016. Another 12 workers suffered injuries. Why are trench collapses more likely to be fatal? A cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, roughly the weight of a small passenger vehicle.
OSHA maintains that trench collapses are often preventable. According to OSHA, preventable trench collapses may occur due to a lack of cave-in protection, inadequate training, and by failing to stop excavated materials from falling into trenches.
OSHA standards require cave-in protection for trenches more than 5 feet deep. Cave-in protection may include trench boxes and shoring systems. Workers must also receive training that helps them recognize trench hazards.
Can I Recover Compensation for a Trench Collapse?
You may recover workers’ comp benefits if you suffer injuries during a trench collapse. It would depend on the circumstances, such as whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance (it is optional in Texas). However, there may be additional means of recovering compensation.
In some cases, you may be able to file a third-party claim. This could be possible if a third party (someone who is not your employer) caused the accident. It may also be possible to file a lawsuit against your employer if they do not carry workers’ compensation.
You should speak to a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one suffered harm during a trench collapse. Austin personal injury attorney Aaron Allison could help you determine which options for compensation (if any) are available for your situation.