One of the goals prioritized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is preventing trench-related deaths nationwide. Unfortunately, many employers and construction workers in Oklahoma and elsewhere fail to recognize the inherent dangers linked to trench work. Complacency plays a significant role in the number of lives lost as the result of workplace injuries suffered in unprotected trenches.
Looking at four preventable deaths that occurred between April 6 and April 16 underscores the gravity of the negligence when it comes to trench work. In the first incident, a 43-year-old worker was found dead in a collapsed 14-foot deep trench where he was working alone at a construction site in a residential area. Another tragedy occurred two days later when the collapse of a 20-foot deep trench killed a 34-year-old worker.
A few days later, two workers in a trench that was 15 feet deep lost their lives when the walls caved in. Reportedly, all three these trenches lacked shielding, shoring or sloping to secure the walls and prevent cave-ins. Employers and employees often think because they have worked in trenches for years without problems, or they will just be in the trench for only a few minutes, that they will be safe. Sadly, too many preventable deaths have occurred because securing a trench seemed a waste of time and money.
When a family in Oklahoma loses a loved one due to trench-related workplace injuries, the state-regulated insurance program typically provides financial assistance. At this challenging time, surviving family members can use the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist with the administrative and legal proceedings to obtain survivors’ benefits. This will ease the financial burden of end-of-life arrangements and the sudden loss of income.