Safety and OSHA News

Grisly reminder: Unprotected trenches can be deadly

Two recent incidents show how unprotected trenches can be deadly, even if an employee isn’t completely buried by soil after a collapse.

In the first case, a construction worker died after he was buried in a trench collapse at a new home site near Cumming, GA.

Bystanders were able to free 20-year-old Aaron Banks’ head of dirt by the time emergency personnel arrived.

About 40 rescue workers tried to save Banks.

After about 90 minutes, paramedics determined the worker had died. His body wasn’t freed until 40 minutes later.

Rescuers had to use a vacuum truck to remove the heavy, soggy soil from the site.

A local news report said it was unclear who Banks worked for. OSHA is investigating.

Worker buried up to his neck

In the second incident, 33-year-old Javier Bautista-Cruz was working in a trench about eight feet deep in Studio City, CA, when it collapsed, burying him up to his neck.

He was declared dead 20 minutes later.

Rescue crews used a vacuum to remove the soil on top of him, but it was too late.

While the exact cause of death hasn’t been determined in either of these cases, those trapped in collapsed trenches often die of internal injuries. It’s often not enough to free the person’s head so they can breathe to save them.

A reminder for construction workers: If a trench is five feet or more deep, it’s likely that shoring is required by OSHA.

Statistics show March, April and October are months with high numbers of trenching injuries and fatalities.

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  1. If they can’t expand their lungs, having their head exposed won’t help.

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