Trench Collapse Injuries in Illinois

Web Admin - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

illinois construction injury lawyerOne of the most dangerous jobs on any construction site is working underground in a trench during a variety of different projects. In fact, hundreds of workers are injured each year in trench collapse accidents, and, according to a report issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, over two-thirds of those injuries happen to workers with small construction firms (those with fewer than 50 employees).

Fortunately, workers who suffer those sorts of injuries do have options. If the injury was caused by a third party, the worker or their family may be able to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death suit against the party responsible. Alternatively, the worker may also have a worker’s compensation claim open to them for the wide array of potential injuries that may result from trench work.

Types of Injuries

Working in underground trenches can bring workers into contact with many different hazards. One of the most obvious is the possibility of the trench collapsing, which can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. However, there are other dangers as well. Workers digging trenches must be careful to avoid utility lines like gas pipes or electricity. If the company or the city did not properly inform the workers of the line’s placement, the workers could be at risk for electrocution or injuries from explosions. Additionally, trenches and similar underground work areas often suffer from poor ventilation. Without proper care to ensure fresh air for workers, they run the risk of suffocation.

OSHA Standards

Because of these many dangers from trench work, OSHA has produced a set of regulations that govern what steps companies should take to ensure the safety of their workers. In addition to preventing accidents before they happen, the regulations can also be useful in lawsuits for demonstrating that a third party, like a subcontractor, acted unsafely when building the trench. Some common safety steps that OSHA requires include:

  • - The use of trench boxes to prevent wall collapses;
  • - Utility mapping and soil quality testing prior to excavation;
  • - Air quality tests to determine the levels of oxygen as well as certain poisonous gasses;
  • - Inspections of the stability of the trench following a rainstorm;
  • - Proper safety barricades surrounding trenches to prevent worker falls; and
  • - A prohibition on overhead work in the areas above trenches.

However, those steps are just some examples of the precautions set out in the OSHA regulations.

If you or a loved one has recently suffered an injury from a trench collapse or other construction work, contact a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our experienced team of lawyers works with clients in towns across the northwest suburbs, like Schaumburg, Mount Prospect, and Crystal Lake, to help them get the compensation that they deserve.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Common Work Accidents in Industrial Plants

James Speers - Friday, December 20, 2013

By Ken Apicella

847 934 6000



Workers in industrial plants often receive safety training, and most plants take precautions to prevent accidents from happening. Still, industrial accidents do occur, and workers would do well to stay aware of common hazards in their environment. Some of the most common accidents that occur in industrial plants involve explosions or asphyxiation. In fact, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board attributes hundreds of deaths and injuries to these types of accidents since 1980.

Explosions in Industrial Plants

Industrial plants are often full of reactive chemicals and hazardous machinery. Unfortunately, those two things often place workers at risk of harm from explosions. Though explosions come in many different forms and have many different causes, some of the most common are pressure vessel explosions, chemical explosions, and combustible dust explosions.

Pressure vessel explosions happen when a gas starts to build up in a sealed tank. This can happen through heating or through an ongoing chemical reaction. Eventually, either due to overpressurization or a flaw in the tank, the vessel bursts, releasing a powerful shock wave and possibly hot vapor as well.

Chemical explosions differ in that they involve reactive chemicals rather than simple overpressurization. These explosions happen when a chemical reaction runs unchecked or a leak releases a flammable chemical, such as hydrogen, into the environment. Then a stray spark or other heat source ignites the chemical, causing an explosion.

The final type of explosion, combustible dust explosions, often happen in factories that produce fine powders, such as flour or sugar. If the company does not take care to properly ventilate the area and ensure a clean work environment, dust can build up in the air. Because fine dusts are often flammable, contact with a heat source can cause the entire cloud to explode.

Asphyxiation in Industrial Plants

Workers in chemical plants are also vulnerable to the hazard of asphyxiation. Though less common than explosions, the threat can be equally dangerous. Workers often asphyxiate in one of two ways. Either a gas leak releases a dangerous chemical into the room that causes suffocation, or the worker ends up in a cramped space for long periods, depriving them of oxygen.

Gas leaks can cause asphyxiation by affecting the concentration of oxygen in the air. Even the release of an ordinarily harmless gas like nitrogen can cause workers to suffocate if it saturates the air and deprives workers from taking in enough oxygen. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a plant accident. Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Barrington, Crystal Lake, Deer Park, and Rolling Meadows.

Construction Accident Safety Tips for Workers in Illinois

Web Admin - Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicago area construction workers face risks on the job daily. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), almost 6.5 million people work at roughly 252,000 construction sites across the country every day. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category than for all other trades.

Common hazards involving construction accidents include the following:

  • Long distance falls
  • Trench or scaffolding collapses
  • Electric shock
  • Failure to use safety equipment
  • Repetitive motion injuries

Ladder injuries are the most common injuring an estimated 24,882 people per year. In Illinois, construction accidents can affect anyone from those working on small-town residential construction site to those working Chicago high rise jobs.

Construction Safety in Suburban Illinois

Recently, a construction accident claimed the life of 59-year-old Marco Aguilar. It was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that Aguilar was killed when he was struck by a Bobcat in Union, Illinois, located in McHenry County. The risks of Personal injury accidents in residential or city areas can be minimized with preventative checks in these common construction situations:

  • Scaffolding: Must be rigid and sufficient enough to carry its own weight and four times the maximum intended load
  • Falling: Guardrail systems with toe boards and warning lines, as well as safety nets or body harnesses
  • Ladders: Visual inspection for structural damage, bent rails, missing rungs, grease or other contaminants that could cause slips and falls
  • Trenching: Correct slope for the a height/depth ratio and install supports for trenches that exceed 20 feet in depth
  • Electrical: Safety gear such as the insulated gloves and sleeves and a hard hat can offer protection, but equipment should also be grounded and materials should be least 10 feet away from electrical power lines

If you have been injured in an Illinois construction accident, contact an Arlington Heights personal injury attorney at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. DGAA has successfully represented those seriously injured in construction accidents or other unfortunate personal injury claims. We serve clients in Chicago, Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines and many other Northwest Suburban areas.

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