When construction occurs in large cities like New York, it generally involves excavating one or more trenches. These trenches allow qualified workers to place utilities (e.g. water main lines) or infrastructure elements underground and out of the way.

The concept of excavating a trench sounds simple in that you dig a long, deep and narrow opening in the ground. However, creating a trench safely requires skill and experience. Without proper expertise, serious workplace accidents can occur resulting in significant injuries or death.

Some of the most common workplace accidents involving trenches include the following.

  • Trench cave-ins occur frequently and result in “dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.”
  • Falling into a trench is also a common construction industry accident.
  • If a load of materials falls into a trench, workers in and around the site may suffer injuries.
  • Sometimes, the atmosphere inside of a trench can affect the wellbeing of workers.

Those employed in trenching industries should know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires certain safety measures each time a trench is created. For example, OSHA mandates that trenches undergo an inspection each day to identify any safety hazards. Trenches must also be inspected each time the conditions in a worksite change.

When a project supervisor demands that you perform trench work for which you are unqualified, you could be placing your wellbeing and even your life at risk. It is always better for your safety to refuse these assignments. 

If you do suffer an injury in a workplace accident involving trenches, you probably qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney can assist you if you face difficulty when filing your claim or if you receive a claim denial.