2 construction workers died after a trench collapsed in Long Island, NY. The two men were installing a septic tank for a private home located on Wolver Hollow Road in Brookville. They were 30 feet down at the bottom of the excavated area when one of the walls collapsed. Dirt and sand quickly covered the two men. First responders rushed to the rescue. They were able to recover one of the worker who was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. As they were digging with their hands and shovels to search for the second worker, another wall started to give way. Rescuers had to promptly exit and the wall had to be secured until the search for the other man could continue. His body was finally recovered. The workers whose identity has not been released were 45 and 57 year old. Read more on the ABC website .
Excavation is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry. In 2018, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation in order to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to this activity. This emphasis program was launched after a recent surge of fatalities and serious injuries related to trenching and excavating. In the fourth quarter of 2019, a contractor who failed to adequately protect his employees during excavation work was slapped with a $161,771 OSHA fine. This fine was among the top 5 highest OSHA fines for the last quarter of 2019. Thankfully nobody was injured but OSHA inspectors found out that the contractor was violating several safety requirements related to excavating work such as not having a competent person conducting regular inspections of the excavation or letting workers continue to work in an excavation that he knew was unsafe.
In 2017, an unlicensed New York contractor was criminally charged with manslaughter after a wall collapsed on his construction site killing 18 year old Fernando Vanegaz and injuring two of his colleagues (see previous blog)
Image of an example of excavation: Courtesy of Wikimedia