Although all construction work in Minnesota has its hazards, trenching is considered to be one of the riskiest ones. In 2016, for example, the number of trenching fatalities around the country were more than twice that of the previous year. Trenching is so dangerous due to the fact that dirt can weigh more than a ton per cubic yard, which is heavy enough to crush workers if they become trapped in a collapsed trench.
One of the main reasons as to why there are so many trenching fatalities is that it costs more for construction firms and subcontractors to keep things safe. For example, managers and supervisors are often eligible to receive bonuses if they can stay within the project cost estimates and get the project completed on time. However, this means that some are willing to ignore safety procedures and forgo compliance costs.
Even though some construction firms and subcontractors ignore certain safety procedures, law enforcement agencies are generally willing to prosecute cases where a worker is killed in a trenching accident. In 2015, a job site foreman was sentenced to up to three years in prison and the company was fined $100,000 after a 22-year-old worker was killed when a trench collapse.
Those who are injured in trench collapses may face a long recovery and expensive medical costs. In some cases, employees injured in trenching accidents may be temporarily or even permanently disabled, preventing them from being able to earn an income or work the same job as before. An attorney may assist with seeking workers’ compensation benefits under the employer’s insurance coverage.