Before a building can go up, workers have to go down. Construction workers are needed to dig foundations, run utilities, and work below ground level for weeks—and they are constantly at risk of cave-ins and collapses. Our attorneys take a look at the particular dangers facing employees working in trenches, on shifting surfaces, and near sites of potential building collapse.
Construction Injuries From Cave-Ins and Collapses
Construction workers can suffer from a wide range of injuries depending on the location and materials involved in a collapse accident. An employee surrounded by mud or soil may suffocate in a cave-in, while a worker who falls from a building collapse may suffer head trauma and broken bones. In many cases, injuries in building and ground collapse incidents have fatal outcomes.
Construction employees may sustain serious injuries as a result of:
Falling buildings can be deadly even if the structure only suffers partial collapse. Structural failure may be caused by construction defects, improper or unstable materials, failure to follow building plans, or by an engineering flaw in the original design.
Employees who are excavating at the worksite must be protected from cave-ins by proper trench boxes. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws require shoring, shielding, or sloping protection that must be used to hold back soil on the walls off a trench in any excavation of five feet or more. Unfortunately, many supervisors fail to install cave-in protection because it requires too much time, money, or effort.
A roof cave-in may be caused by heavy machines or loads placed on top of the structure, improper supports, changing to cheaper building materials, or failure to identify collapse risk in an inspection.
If a foundation is not constructed or designed properly, it may not be able to bear the weight of the building placed on top of it. Foundation collapse can occur at any point during construction, threatening workers on every level of the structure.
Slips In Mud, Gravel, and Sand
Piles of soil, sand, and gravel used in construction projects must be properly stored to prevent them from spilling into open areas or swallowing workers beneath them. Contractors should plan the locations of these materials carefully, since rainfall and steep grading can cause piles to shift downhill and place workers at risk.
Workers Often Suffer Collapse Injuries Due to Improper Safety Measures
Most building collapses could have been prevented at some point during the course of planning or construction. OSHA requires a “competent person” to be in charge of the worksite to minimize collapse risks and ensure that employees know how to respond when a cave-in occurs. As a result, a contractor may be held liable in a construction accident lawsuit if he or she failed to:
Follow Safety Measures
Site managers should take all necessary precautions to protect workers in trenches, including providing safe access into and out of excavations, allowing work only when safety precautions have been installed, and training workers on collapse prevention and emergency response.
Perform Repairs or Maintenance After an Adverse Event
A mudslide, fire, or even a sudden rainstorm can pose risks to excavations and half-completed structures on a job site. Allowing moisture to weaken building materials or forcing workers to work on muddy ground can increase the risk of future disasters.
Managers should perform regular inspections to identify malfunctions or defects in the building, blueprints, or structure. They should also inspect the site daily before work begins to make sure environmental conditions have not affected the work.
As collapses can cause life-changing injuries for a construction worker, it is important for victims of these incidents to speak with a construction injury attorney right away. In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, victims may be owed compensation from the owner of the property, the contractor on the job, or another negligent third party. If you or someone you love was injured while working on a New York City construction site, our attorneys can examine the facts of your case, determine what caused the event, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with an injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.