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This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for work injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by work injuries.

Trench Safety at a Construction Site – In Cypress, Texas, a 19-year-old Worker Dies in a Trench Collapse – Part 3

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Overview of Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter ill...

Overview of Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter illustrating trench and block excavation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday, February 13, 2016, a fatal workplace accident occurred in Cypress, Texas. A 19-year-old contract worker was in a 16-foot-deep trench working on manholes and sewer lines when the sides of the trench collapsed onto him, killing him. At about 2:20 p.m., the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene. Numerous rescue vehicles responded to the call. After about 20 minutes, when rescue workers had still not found the man underneath the loose dirt, the effort switched to recovery rather than rescue mode. The victim had still not been reached after 8 hours of digging, according to fire department spokesperson Brian Shirley.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prepared information to highlight trenching and excavation safety. The following is in regard to general excavation and trenching rules:

  • Heavy equipment must be kept away from the edges of the trench.
  • All sources that could possibly affect trench stability should be identified.
  • The spoils or excavated soil and other materials must be kept at least 2 feet from the edges of a trench.
  • Before digging begins, the whereabouts of underground utilities must be determined.
  • A test must be conducted to determine the atmospheric hazards in a trench that is greater than 4 feet deep. Possible atmospheric hazards include toxic gases, hazardous fumes, and low oxygen.
  • At the beginning of each shift, the trenches must be inspected.
  • Following a water intrusion such as a rainstorm, the trenches must be inspected.
  • Workers should not work underneath raised or suspended materials and loads.
  • If anything occurs that could have changed conditions in an excavation, it must be inspected.

Find out more about excavation and trenching safety in Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

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