Construction workers in Ohio and elsewhere may not always realize that they put their lives on the line every time they enter trenches. The slightest safety violation can cause the walls to collapse, and not many victims of cave-ins survive. However, two trench workers — called old-school tough guys by a member of a technical rescue team — were fortunate to escape death when they were recently trapped in a collapsed trench in a neighboring state.

The two men, ages 54 and 65, were trapped about 10 feet below ground level, buried up to their hips in mud. A stop work order was issued by authorities when they saw that the required safety precautions to prevent the walls from collapsing were not in place. It was reported that short cuts were taken by placing inadequate boarding against the trench walls instead of shoring them as per regulations.

According to fire officials, the nature of the trench required proper shoring or a trench box. Reportedly, the collapse occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. and the first man was rescued just short of three hours later. It took rescue workers another hour to remove the second man from the trench. Their conditions were described as stable, and no serious injuries seemed to be present.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the accident, and any safety violation will likely lead to penalties. Being in deep trenches can cause fatalities even if the workers are not buried by soil. There may be dangerous gases or a lack of oxygen that can cause asphyxiation. Ohio workers should never enter unsafe trenches, and if they do suffer injuries, they will be entitled to file workers’ compensation benefits claims for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.

Source:, “Stop-work order issued for Chesterfield Township trench collapse site“, Mitch Hotts, Aug. 27, 2017