People sometimes do not take trench collapse issues as seriously as they should, often because the issue doesn’t seem quite as dangerous as it really is. Common misconceptions are that the trench seems stable enough, that the workers could get out if they noticed an issue and that other workers who are watching nearby would be able to rescue anyone who got buried if a collapse did happen.
All of these beliefs are wrong. No one should ever assume that a trench, even a small one, is stable. They need to use caution and safety equipment to ensure that it is, and no one should ever work in the trench if the conditions are questionable.
As far as getting out in time is concerned, collapses are often very fast. There is not enough warning, especially for a worker who would have to climb a ladder to get out. It only takes a few seconds for the trench to be completely filled, so a worker can be buried before they know what is happening.
Finally, when considering rescue, the weight of the dirt is often underestimated. Take a collapse in 2016, for instance, where a man was buried by “thousands of pounds of dirt.” Even though people knew he had been buried and rescue teams rushed to the scene, his body couldn’t be recovered for hours. Relying on other workers to perform a quick rescue is not realistic.
Have you been injured on the job or lost a loved one? If so, it’s important that you know what rights you have.