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March 25, 2021

Trench Collapses, Killing Worker in Orange County, NY

On Monday, March 22, a construction worker was killed after a trench collapsed around him while working at a site at the Woodbury Villas, near the Monroe-Woodbury High School in Orange County, NY. The 43-year old laborer was digging in a 10-foot ditch, when the walls gave way, burying him in dirt and debris.

Unfortunately, there was no trench safety box in place. The identity of the worker has remained confidential while this horrific accident is under investigation by the Woodbury Police Department.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that about 25 workers are killed each year in trench-related accidents. The most common reason why trenches collapse is that they are not properly protected.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Fact Sheet regarding trenching and excavation safety states that “trench collapses, or cave-ins, pose the greatest risk to workers’ lives.” Even though small amounts of dirt may not seem threatening, one cubic yard of dirt can weigh more than 3,000 pounds – about the weight of a compact car!

There are many requirements that an employer must meet in the workplace to reduce a worker’s exposure to these potential hazards.

Some requirements include implementing a protective system with the following:

  • Benching, sloping, shoring, or shielding
  • Having on-hand a registered professional engineer for daily trench inspection
  • Maintaining a clear path for access to and egress from the trench

Some welcome news is that the construction industry is increasing the presence of robots on construction sites. In one instance, a controlled pipe manipulator was able to transport, line, and joint large pipes, thus eliminating the need for pipe layers and helpers to work at the bottom of the trench. With continued advancements in robotics, there is hope that these accidents will become a thing of the past.

Advocates for Injury Victims

Denlea & Carton represents accident victims throughout Westchester County, NY. If you were injured at a construction site or have tragically lost a loved one, reach out to our firm. We can discuss your accident in a free consultation and help you file a claim for compensation.

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