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Trench collapse at JFK highlights construction hazards

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Construction Injuries, Workers' Compensation, Workplace injuries

Airplane passengers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport may have noticed an increase in construction activity lately. Indeed, construction has been occurring, leading to an incident in which two construction workers were killed on the job.

The trench collapse

Two construction workers lost their lives after being caught in a trench collapse at JFK airport. The incident occurred near Terminal 7 earlier in April.

It took approximately 60 rescue personnel to remove the victims from the debris. Both victims were found dead at the scene. The Port Authority will be investigating the incident.

Safety standards for trenches

Trench collapses are a common cause of fatal construction accidents. Oftentimes trench collapses occur when proper protective systems are not in place or appropriate exit points are not provided.

Federal safety standards mandate that any trench deeper than five feet has a protective system in place. In addition, federal safety standards mandate that there be a two-feet distance between soil and the edge of the trench.

Trenches cannot have any standing water in them. Trenches must be inspected. Finally, workers must have a safe way to enter and exit trenches before being allowed into the trench.

Trench collapse statistics

The statistics on trench collapses are striking. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that through the end of November of last year, 35 construction workers lost their lives while performing activities in trenches. Between 2011 and 2018, 166 construction workers were killed on the job in trench collapses.

When federal safety standards are not followed, trench collapses might happen. Some of these collapses can be deadly, killing the construction workers inside the trench. While no workplace can be kept entirely hazard-free, negligence at construction sites can cause serious injuries for which benefits might be sought.