Local News

OSHA Investigates Trench Collapse In Durham

Posted June 10, 2003

— Two construction workers had a close call Tuesday, escaping serious injuries after a trench collapsed on them.

Afterward, the

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

was asking tough questions about possible safety violations at the site.

A small crew of men was digging a trench for a new sewer line under Synnott's Place near Hillandale Road. Two workers were down inside, 12 to 15 feet down, when the earth suddenly gave way.

The heavy clay soil buried one of the workers up to his waist. Firefighters said it appeared he had a broken leg.

The second man tried to dig his friend out. But both men were still in danger of more of the trench wall caving.

OSHA investigators were at the scene shortly after the rescue, taking pictures and measurements.

Battalion Chief J.B. Yeargin of the Durham Fire Department said it was obvious the crew tried to take a short cut -- without considering safety risks.

"The trench was deeper than what OSHA laws require," Yeargin said, "with a trench box or some type of shoring having to be utilized in those situations for safety."

The workers were Hispanic and did not speak English. Their employer, Canco Construction of Durham, would not comment on the incident but will have to answer to OSHA investigators.

The workers were taken to a hospital for treatment. Their names and conditions had not been released as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.


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