Construction workers know their work environment can be hazardous. They may fall, be electrocuted, hit their heads or encounter any number of other hazards. In the right conditions, even mud can be the source of a construction accident.
Recently, more than 100 firefighters were sent to a New York construction site after a worker became stuck up to his chest in mud in a subway construction trench. He was trapped 75 to 100 feet below grade level as firefighters worked for hours to free him while the temperature dropped.
It took an hour for firefighters to reach the worker, and then another three hours to extricate him. Rescuers used plywood and two-by-fours to create a stable place to move around the slippery mud. Finally, the man was brought up on a stretcher by a crane and taken to a hospital. News sources said that rescuers planned to hose the man off in an attempt to remove contaminants that may have been in the subway tunnel mud.
This incident shows just how dangerous trenches can be. A cave-in is one of the most common hazards, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Workers may also be injured by falling loads, breathing hazards, or injuries from equipment. To protect workers, OSHA requires that trenches be inspected at least daily, and more often as conditions change. Trenches more than 20 feet deep must have protective systems designed or approved by an engineer, and workers must have access to safe entries and exits, among other requirements.
Sources: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Trenching and Excavation Safety; CBS New York, “Firefighters Rescue Subway Construction Worker Trapped For 4 Hours In The Mud,” March 19, 2013
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