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Another Common Construction Hazard

Many of our regular readers will recall a recent blog post in this space on the "fatal four" types of construction accidents. There is another type of construction site mishap that is also far too common: trench collapses.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently cited a construction company for a willful safety violation after a worksite accident in which a trench collapsed about a 90-minute drive north of Newburgh.

The collapse of the 8-foot-deep trench in Menands came as workers were installing a storm sewer system. The trench collapsed onto a worker, who was, thankfully, extricated. He was hospitalized with injuries unspecified by OSHA.

The Department of Labor agency noted that its standards require that all trenches 5 feet deep or more have protections against dangerous collapses that can result in injuries and deaths. The protections can include shoring (fortifying trench walls with special beams or plates), installation of a protective trench box or the sloping of dirt at a shallow angle.

OSHA's area director said that the worker's injuries and the collapse were both "needless and avoidable." It noted that the employee in this instance survived, while many in similar circumstances are not as fortunate. "An unprotected trench can turn into a grave in seconds" when worker safety is ignored, the director said in a statement on the agency's website. 

For construction workers injured on the job, a conversation with an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you understand your options when a workers' comp claim has been denied.

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