A trench cave-in at a New Jersey construction site resulted in the death of two workers. According to a CBS news report, the fatal construction accident occurred during the excavation of a drainage pipe at a Boonton, New Jersey home on Rockaway Valley Road.
Officials stated one of the workers was inside a trench when one of the walls caved in. The second worker attempted to save the first but both were buried in approximately 10 feet of dirt. A third worker is recovering at a nearby hospital. It is unclear what caused the cave-in.
Small trenches may seem harmless, but the majority of trench accident fatalities occur at depths less than 10 feet. The weight and force of soil or dirt collapsing into a trench can be enough to fatally crush or trap a worker in moments. If buried under the collapsing material or if a worker’s chest is injured or compressed to a significant degree, it may cause suffocation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 350 workers killed in trenching or excavation cave-ins between 2000 and 2009; an average of 35 fatalities a year.
The majority of trench collapses and cave-ins are preventable. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the leading cause of trench-related fatalities is a lack of protective systems which may be utilized including: ground sloping, benching, trench shoring with planks or hydraulic jacks and trench shields. Most trench-related deaths can be prevented by following OSHA guidelines and by using the referenced protective systems.
Workers injured in trench cave-in accidents can pursue compensation for their losses by filing for New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits, and possibly by filing third party claims if warranted. An experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer can help injured workers and their families protect their rights and investigate potential claims. Please call the experienced attorneys of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari at (973) 635-5400 to discuss your claim.