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Trencher Accidents


Trenchers are pieces of construction equipment used to dig trenches mainly for laying pipe or cable or installing drainage. They range in size from walk-behind models, attachments for a skid loader or tractor, or they may be a specialized standalone piece of equipment, such as a wheel trencher, chain trencher, or a micro-trencher for example. 

Trench work is one of the most dangerous types of construction work, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stating the fatality rate for trench work is approximately 112% higher than the fatality rate for general construction work. Hundreds of trencher and excavation workers are injured yearly with dozens suffering fatal injuries. 

If you have been injured in a trencher accident, contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Mike Agruss Law is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.

Trencher Hazards

Trench and excavation work are rife with hazards. Cave-ins pose the greatest risk to a construction worker and are the most likely method to cause serious and/or deadly injuries. Other hazards to those using a trencher, bystanders, or those working in a trench include: 

  • Falls
  • Falling loads
  • Crushing injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Head, neck, and spinal injuries
  • Inhalation of toxic fumes
  • Electrocution
  • Asphyxiation
  • Wrongful death 

To protect against trencher accidents, OSHA requires employers and general contractors to protect their workers and ensure that those using trenchers are adequately trained in the use of the machine and the potential hazards such a piece of equipment can pose. This includes:

  • Failure to inspect trench and protective systems – The worksite must be inspected multiple times daily by a competent person and there must be protective systems in place that are safe and effective. OSHA defines a competent person as, “an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.”
  • Unsafe spoil – pile placement-Spoil piles are excavated trench materials that must be deposited at a minimum of two (2) feet from the excavation site. Failure to do so could cause the trencher or other excavation equipment to backslide into the trench, injuring workers.
  • Not following general trench rules – To prevent trench accidents OSHA recommends that heavy equipment and surcharge loads are kept at least two (2) feet from trench edges, trench operators know where underground utilities are located, tests are run for the presence of toxic chemicals, low oxygen levels, and hazardous fumes, trenches are inspected daily and following rainstorms, and employees do not work under raised loads.
  • Access and egress – OSHA requires safe access and egress to and from trenches for all employees working in an excavation site that is four (4) feet or deeper, including ladders, steps, ramps, and other methods of safe exit.
  • Unsafe trencher – A trencher should be inspected and maintained regularly to ensure that it is safe for use. If a trencher is found to be defective in any way, it should not be used until it is repaired. Trenchers may also suffer from defective design and/or manufacturing. If an employee is injured due to a defective piece of equipment, the designer, manufacturer, and/or anyone else involved in the chain of distribution of the defective product could be held responsible for the injuries their trencher caused.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to negligence on the job site or a defective product, an experienced personal injury lawyer can review your claim and determine if there were unsafe working conditions, potential OSHA violations, and other hazards that may have existed at the time of your accident. They will also determine who may be liable for your injuries and damages and what compensation you may be entitled to.

Helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people, not the powerful, we will take care of the insurance adjusters, your medical bills, your property damage, and your lost wages, and monitor your treatment so you can focus on healing and getting your life back to normal. Our unique formula has earned us over 1,000 outstanding client reviews on our website, an A+ BBB rating, and over 135 five-star reviews on Google. Call 888-572-0176, e-mail us at [email protected], or schedule a meeting with us here. We’re here 24/7.


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