On Monday morning around 11:00 a.m., two construction workers performing utility work at John F. Kennedy Airport became trapped in a 30-foot trench when a concrete slab fell on top of them. After being pulled from the rubble, the two men were tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport, identified the workers as Francisco Reyes, 41, and Fernando Lagunas Pereira, 28. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims’ loved ones during this difficult time.
According to reports from the New York Post, Reyes and Pereira were relocating utility lines near the airport’s cogeneration plant to upgrade electrical systems when the accident occurred. The cause of the collapse is currently unknown. According to a Port Authority spokesperson, a stop work order was issued for all of JFK Airport as they conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
Safety Protocol on Trenching Sites
Trench collapses are among the most dangerous incidents that can happen on a construction site. These types of accidents are less common, however when they do occur workers are faced with a high risk for serious injuries or death. Just one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car. Cave-ins pose a great risk for everyone involved. Risks associated with trench collapses include:
- Crush injuries from the weight of the fallen rubble
- Suffocation from a lack of oxygen beneath the debris
- Dehydration or hypothermia from being trapped beneath hot or cold soil
- Risks posed to first responders attempting to rescue those trapped
Because of the extreme dangers associated with trench collapses, it is crucial that employers comply with well-established safety standards to protect their workers from preventable accidents that can result in tragedies like the one that occurred on Monday morning.
Standards put forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aim to eliminate or greatly reduce the risk of trench collapses. Before a trench is even dug, standards require a “competent person” to classify the soil or rock on the site. Different materials will require different approaches to the project to ensure workers are kept safe. The employer is responsible for hiring this “competent person” who will also be required to inspect the trench on a daily basis.
Other safety standards that employers must adhere to include:
- Keeping heavy equipment away from trench edges
- Keeping excavated soil and other materials at least 2 feet from the trench edge
- Identifying where underground utilities are located
- Regular trench inspections
Depending on the conditions of the site, different protective systems should be put in place to protect workers. These systems include:
- Sloping – cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation
- Shoring – installing supports to prevent soil movement
- Shielding – using trench boxes or other supports to prevent cave-ins
Laws such as New York Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 241(6) may also apply to impose liability for trench collapses.
New York Trench Accident Lawyers
All construction workers have a legal right to work in an environment that does not place them at risk of injury. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm in an accident that resulted from another party’s negligent behavior, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Our trench accident lawyers understand how an accident can severely impact one’s life and have dedicated their careers to helping accident victims obtain the compensation they are legally entitled to. Notable results include:
- $12,000,000 settlement for a tunnel worker who fell into a ventilation shaft at a Manhattan construction site
- $5,500,000 settlement for a construction worker who suffered injuries when he was struck by a rotating excavator
- $4,250,000 settlement for a union excavator who sustained serious injuries when he fell into a trench
- $3,075,000 result for a union plumber who was injured by falling gravel while working in a trench
The post Two Workers Killed in Trench Accident at JFK Airport first appeared on Block O’Toole & Murphy.