2022: Deadliest Year For Trench Excavations In Nearly Two Decades

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thirty-nine people died doing trench or excavation work in the U.S. in 2022. This number more than doubled 2021’s numbers and represents a significant uptake in trench deaths, which averaged 21 each year from 2011-2018.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ramped up enforcement and education efforts to tackle the worrying trend of trench deaths. A new campaign in the Midwest region with the collaboration between OSHA, on-site consultation projects across OSHA Region 5, and trenching and excavation industry employers and other stakeholders, such as the National Utility Contractors Association, came into effect. The campaign aims to launch an outreach program to work directly with employers, workers, state agencies, and industry associations to reduce and prevent serious injuries and fatalities suffered by workers in trench excavations.

OSHA urged industry employers and workers to follow essential trench safety standards:

  • Protective systems must be in place for trenches 5-feet deep or deeper. These systems include benching, sloping, shoring, and shielding;
  • A registered professional engineer must approve trenches of 20-feet deep or deeper;
  • A competent person must inspect trenches daily – and as conditions change – before anyone enters a trench. The competent person must be able to identify existing and predictable hazards, soil types and protective systems, and have authority to take prompt corrective action to eliminate those hazards;
  • Excavated soils must be kept at least two feet from trench edges; 
  • Underground utilities must be located and marked before digging begins; and 
  • Ladders must be positioned every 25 feet of lateral travel for safe entrance and exit from the trench.

Contractors that failed to follow the above guidelines were hit with six-figure fines, and, in some cases, even criminal charges.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trench excavation, call Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner today. It is imperative that you find a law firm to manage your claim as soon as possible following an incident of this nature. Further, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable.

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the long-standing personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584 for your free consultation.