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An “alarming rise” in trench collapses and the toll on workers

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Workplace Injuries |

Trench collapses are among the most serious things that can go wrong on a construction project – and many of them are avoidable with the right precautions. Unfortunately, not every company takes those precautions.

It sometimes takes serious injuries and even fatalities for companies to be held to account. Last fall, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a Bronx construction company for four major safety violations after a trench collapse at John F. Kennedy International Airport that killed two workers.

The two men had been removing soil from under a concrete slab when it fell and crushed them. OSHA’s investigation found that the company didn’t have a cave-in protection system in place at the site. The agency also found that the company, Triumph Construction, hadn’t provided its workers with the appropriate safety training.

This company had a history of excavation safety violations. It had been cited four previous times over the past 15 years. At least one other incident involved a worker being trapped under concrete in a trench collapse, although he survived.

Sanctions under New York law

Under New York state law, companies found responsible for workers’ injuries and deaths can face criminal charges as well as fines. That law was enacted nearly a decade ago after a worker died in a Manhattan trench collapse. At least one contractor has been convicted of homicide after a worker was crushed to death by building materials in Brooklyn.

According to OSHA, there has been an “alarming rise” in fatal trench collapses. Certainly, New York’s strengthened law can help encourage construction companies and contractors to provide as many safeguards as possible by increasing the penalties for not taking the proper precautions. However, it’s still necessary for injured workers and the surviving family members of those who have been killed to get the compensation they need and to which they’re entitled. If you need help with that, having experienced legal guidance can make all the difference.