Trenching and Excavation Injuries

Trenching and excavation work ranks as one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry. Excavation work typically involves digging, cutting or moving earth either with heavy excavation equipment or by hand. A trench is classified as any cut where the depth of the cut is deeper than its width.

The dangers from trenching or excavating can come in many forms including, trench cave-ins, trench collapses, falling debris or falling loads of earth or rock, and exposure to flooding or harmful gasses, just to name a few.

Causes of Trench Accidents

Causes of excavation and trenching accidents or injuries usually stem from the lack of adequate protective systems including, “shoring” which involves installation of boxes or other supports; “Sloping,” which involves making an angle at the edge of the trench to reduce the risk of cave-ins; and “shielding,” which involves use of boxes or protective barriers to prevent workers from falling debris.

Proving Liability for Trenching or Excavation Injury

Establishing liability for a trenching or excavation requires a thorough review of all of the facts and circumstances surrounding a trench or excavating accident. Evidence may come from witnesses, photographs, or documentary evidence such as citations for safety violations or incident reports. When required safety precautions are not followed, this may lead to liability for negligence. As in most claims involving negligence, Massachusetts law places the burden on the plaintiff to establish that a defendant is at fault (i.e., negligent). As in most construction site cases, there may be several parties who share responsibility for a trench or excavation injury including subcontractors, or general contractors. For this reason, it is important to have a qualified Boston construction accident attorney who can properly investigate the claim and identify all potential responsible parties. It is also important to take steps to preserve evidence as quickly as possible. On a construction site, evidence may disappear quickly as the primary focus in any project is getting the project finished on time and on budget. For example, a trench that was present on the day of the accident may be filled in; witnesses may move on to new projects, or; equipment may be discarded and thrown in a dumpster. It is important to have an attorney who can seek out important evidence with the goal of preserving any crucial evidence that will help to prove liability later in the case.

OSHA regulations require that certain measures be taken to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries from trenching or excavating including, having safe access and egress to all excavations, and having proper exiting equipment such as ladders, or ramps for excavations 4 feet or deeper. Regulations require that these safety measures be installed within 25 feet of where workers are present.

General Rules for Trenching or Excavation Safety
  • Keeping heavy excavation equipment way from the edges of a trench
  • Identify the presence of all underground utilities where digging will take place
  • Have adequate testing for harmful gasses or atmosphere conditions
  • Have adequate safety equipment in place such as ladders and ramps
  • Perform regular inspections of trenches
  • Use adequate protective systems such as shields or shoring devices
Hire a Massachusetts Construction Injury Attorney

Construction site accidents can result in serious and permanent injuries. Contact the Boston area construction law and construction site attorneys at Curran & Desharnais, P.C., today at 781-277-3262 to discuss your rights and learn what options may be available to you. Our consultation is always FREE and we will not receive any compensation unless we are able to secure a favorable settlement or award on your behalf.