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Trench collapse: Grave digger narrowly escapes death

A New York worker narrowly escaped his own death while he was digging a grave. A grave is no different from a trench in that it is a long narrow excavation cut into the surface of the earth. When an open grave caves in, the worker is exposed to the same hazards as in a trench collapse. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into worker safety at the various cemeteries throughout metropolitan New York area where this company operates its grave digging business.

OSHA inspectors reportedly found several safety violations that expose other workers to the same hazards that caused this man's serious injuries. He was buried in soil up to his waist. The agency said any such excavation must be inspected by a qualified person to identify and address potential dangers. Based on this assessment, a trench -- or grave -- must then be properly supported and protected against collapses.

Workers must be informed about the potential dangers and the importance of not placing the excavated soil close to the edge of the trench walls and thereby compromising the stability of the excavation. At the inspection site, agents also found damaged equipment that posed further struck-by hazards. An OSHA director noted that at least two lives are lost in trench collapses every month, and he stated that this recent cave-in, along with most others, might have been prevented had safety regulations been followed.

The New York grave digger who was injured in this trench collapse may find comfort in knowing that the workers' compensation insurance program offers financial assistance. Benefits claims may be pursued for compensation of medical expenses and lost income. Assistance with navigating the claims process can be obtained from an experienced workers' compensation attorney. The nature and severity of the injuries will determine the level of compensation awarded, and the benefits issued will help support the injured worker and his or her family during the recuperation period.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Gravedigger incident underscores cave-in risks", Dec. 4, 2015

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