Two construction workers were seriously injured after a dirt wall partially collapsed on them while working a construction site at a new high school in Allen, Texas. The men were working in a 15-foot-deep trench (ostensibly to lay sewage pipe or electrical lines) when a portion of the dirt wall buckled. Other workers were able to remove the debris from the men before rescue workers' arrival. Falling debris and slip and fall injuries are typical accidents on construction sites.
Trench cave-ins are very dangerous, as collapsing soil can exert enough pressure to break bones and suffocate workers. Jonathan Boyd, a division chief with the Allen Fire Department, warned that proper shoring devices are required because Texas' soil type is commonly unsafe for trenching. Unforeseen collapses are one of many dangers construction workers face. They must be wary of hazards that include:
- Falls - Commonly caused by improper scaffolding, unsecured ladders and open floors and ceilings. According to OSHA, falls from heights make up one-third of fatalities on construction sites.
- Heavy equipment - Because of their massive size and weight, there is a greater possibility of serious injury or death if an accident happens.
- Falling objects - While hard hats are required, they generally do not provide adequate protection from heavy falling objects. Construction areas that are not properly sectioned off create public hazards, and loads that are not properly secured present additional dangers to workers.
- Toxic chemicals - Dangerous chemicals are common in construction sites. Without proper protection or ventilation, exposure to fumes (or the chemicals themselves) causes serious burns. Moreover, improper care of chemicals can lead to explosions or fires.
The adage "any accident is preventable" still holds true. Most accidents are caused by negligence - when the site is not properly secured or conditioned for the type of work to be completed. The Allen High School accident illustrates the necessity of properly preparing and maintaining construction sites for safety.