A city highway employee was injured after being trapped by dirt and debris during a trench collapse. According to a report in the Daily Voice, the construction accident occurred the morning of June 11 in New City, Rockland County. The Clarkstown Highway Department had been working on excavating a trench when it collapsed causing the worker to be trapped by dirt and debris up to his waist.
Fellow workers helped remove the injured 35-year-old man from the trench before police units arrived at the scene. The victim was treated by paramedics and transported to a local emergency room with non-life-threatening injuries. An investigation into how the incident occurred is ongoing. The nature and extent of the worker’s injuries is not known.
Dangers of Trenching
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), excavation and trenching are among the most dangerous construction operations. OSHA defines excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet.
During the trenching and excavation process, cave-ins pose the greatest risk. They are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, and incidents involving mobile equipment. Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.
OSHA recommends that workers not enter an unprotected trench. Trenches that are 5 feet deep or greater require a protective system. Trenches 20 feet deep or greater require that the protective system be designed by a registered professional engineer or be based on data prepared and/or approved by a registered professional engineer.
OSHA standards also require that trenches be inspected every day and as conditions change by a competent person before a worker enters the excavation in order to eliminate hazards. A competent person in such cases is defined 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.”
Here are some of the steps that construction companies, contractors and other parties should take in order to protect workers during trenching and excavation work:
• Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
• Know where underground utilities are located in order to prevent electrical injuries and electrocutions.
• Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.
• Inspect trenches at the beginning of each work shift.
• Inspect trenches after a rainstorm to ensure stability.
• Do not work under raised loads.
Compensation for Injured Workers
General construction companies, managing agents, building owners, some contractors and sub-contractors have a duty to provide workers with protective gear such as hard hats, harnesses, goggles for eye safety, steel-toed boots and other equipment that helps them stay safe on the job. They also have a duty to provide workers with job and safety training in a language they can understand.
Workers who are injured in construction accidents may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits, which typically cover medical and drug expenses and a portion of lost wages. In addition, workers and their families may be able to file a third-party lawsuit for substantial money damages against a number of parties, and thus have two sources of compensation. Third-party claims are filed against parties other than the employer or co-employees and may include general contractors, sub-contractors, building owners, managing agents, construction companies, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries in a construction accident, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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