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Before the buildings could rise, the workers had to descend. Construction workers must excavate the foundations, route utilities, and operate beneath the earth’s surface for weeks — and are at constant risk of sinking in and collapsing. Our lawyers examine the hazards faced by employees working in trenches, on shifting surfaces, and close to potential collapse sites. Construction workers may experience a broad spectrum of injuries depending on where the accident occurs and what materials are involved.

An employee trapped in the dirt or earth can choke to death during a sinkhole, whereas a worker falling off the side of a collapsed building may experience brain injuries and fractures. Injuries from facilities and land collapse incidents often result in death. Falling buildings can kill, even when a structure suffers only partial collapse. Structural collapse may result from construction defects, inappropriate or unstable materials, a failure to comply with the building’s plans, or engineering deficiencies in the initial design.

Employees digging on a job site should be protected against sinking in using appropriate trench boxes. In addition, occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws require shoreline, berm, or slope protection, which should be used to keep the ground away from the walls on a trench in any excavation five feet or higher. Unfortunately, many supervisors do not set up shoring for sloping, as it requires too much time, money, or energy.

A roof cave-in can result from heavy machinery or loads placed over a structure, inadequate supports, changes in cheaper construction materials, or a failure to recognize collapse hazards during inspections. In addition, if the foundation is improperly constructed or designed, it may be unable to bear the weight of a structure placed on top. Foundation failures can happen anytime during the building process, threatening workers at all facility levels.

Soil, sand, and gravel pilings used in construction projects should be stored correctly, so they do not leak into the outdoor areas or engulf workers below. Contractors must plan carefully where to keep such materials, as rains and abrupt grade changes could shift the piles downwards, placing workers in danger.

Most buildings that collapse may have been prevented at some time in planning or construction. OSHA requires a “competent person” in charge of a job site to minimize collapse hazards and ensure employees know how to react if a collapse occurs. Site managers must take any necessary safety measures to protect workers on excavations, including providing safe access into and out of holes, permitting work only after installing safety measures, and training workers in the preventive aspects of a cave-in and response to an emergency.

Mudslides, fires, or sudden downpours may present hazards for digging operations and semi-finished structures at work sites. In addition, allowing moisture to weaken construction materials, or forcing workers to operate in wet soil, could heighten the risks of future disasters.

Managers should conduct periodic inspections to detect deficiencies or faults with buildings, plans, or structures. They should also check on the property every day before the start of the job to ensure that environmental conditions do not impact work.

Because a collapse can result in life-changing injuries to the worker, victims of these accidents must talk with an attorney who handles construction injuries immediately. In addition to worker’s compensation benefits, victims might also owe damages from property owners, contractors at work, or another negligent third party. Our attorneys can examine the facts of your case, identify what caused the accident, and do what we do best, get you paid more.

The Law May Limit the Time You Have to File a Ground Collapse Accident Claim

Under the legal rule known as “the statute of limitations,” any claim stemming from a ground collapse accident or death must be filed within a specific period of time, otherwise, the injured person or their family’s legal claims are barred, and their right to bring suit is lost for all time.

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