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Construction Accidents Involving Trenches Can Be Prevented

Construction accidents involving trenches and excavations are often catastrophic or fatal. A recent North Dakota man escaped with his life after being buried in a 16 foot trench. Although this accident occurred far from New York City, the consequences of shoring and trench accidents are the same everywhere.

Suffocation is probably the most serious result of being buried, and it is frequently fatal. However, even if the victim does not die, the weight and pressure on the chest can make it very difficult to breathe, causing suffocation even if the victim’s face is uncovered.

Another burial victim, a 16-year-old Indiana boy, was released from the hospital after being entombed in a sand dune for three hours. Doctors say that he will probably have lung problems for life because he inhaled a lot of sand. Otherwise, however, he is expected to recover.

In addition to lung damage, medical concerns include hypoxia to the brain because of lack of oxygen while buried.

The other major concern is “crush syndrome.” This occurs when the weight of the dirt or sand destroys tissue in the body, releasing toxins into the bloodstream. This can cause liver failure, heart damage or other organ problems. In addition to internal injuries, lack of blood flow to the limbs because of the pressure can result in amputation when the involved muscle tissue dies.

The outcome of a trenching or shoring accident is determined by the weight of the earth or sand as well as the length of time the victim was buried.

Construction sites in NYC are not much different from sites anywhere, and the city has its share of burial accidents, injuries and deaths. For example, in June of this year, a construction worker was stuck in the mud in a 25-foot trench in Kew Gardens. The Second Avenue subway project has seen several burial accidents, including one in March. Last year an accident on Staten Island claimed the life of a 29-year-old construction worker.

Construction accidents of this type are preventable when proper shoring techniques are used to hold up the walls of the trench. If you were injured in an accident involving a construction trench or lost a loved one when an excavation collapsed, call the injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy. Learn how they can help.

Source: WDAY, “Effects of being buried discussed following Fargo construction accident,” by Becky Parker, Jul. 24, 2013.


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