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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.

A Plumber Dies in a Trench Collapse in Flower Mound, Texas

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Flower Mound, Texas, Community Center (Photo: Labeled for Reuse)

Forty-five-year-old Christopher Corbet, a plumber, was killed in an on-the-job accident in Flower Mound, Texas, on December 14, 2017. He had dug a trench to go underneath a residence, and the trench collapsed. Fire crews and officers with the Flower Mound Police Department responded to the residence and attempted to rescue Corbet. They were unable to establish communication with him. Eventually, his body was recovered from beneath the home.

A ten-year study ending in 2009 that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that approximately 35 workers die in the U.S. every year as a result of excavation or trenching cave-ins. Experts say that workers don’t always recognize the danger of working around dirt. According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), one cubic yard of dirt can weigh 3,000 pounds or more. In addition, trenches can collapse with no warning.

The following are some of the factors that affect the stability of soil at an excavation or trenching site:

  • Type of soil
  • Water content in soil
  • Proximity of site to previously backfilled excavations
  • Nearness of heavy machinery and tools
  • Vibrations caused by tools and heavy equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a protection system when trenches are 5 feet deep or more, with the exception of an excavation consisting completely of stable rock.

The following are tips for workers regarding trenches:

  • Never enter a trench that doesn’t have a protection system in place.
  • Never enter a trench until it has been inspected by someone qualified to determine whether it is safe to enter.
  • Exit a trench immediately if you see any evidence that there may be problems with the protective system. Contact a competent person to perform an inspection.
  • Never assume that you will have time to move and escape injury if a trench collapses.

Employers have a responsibility to workers, to ensure that proper trenching safety procedures are used on all jobs.

–Guest Contributor

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