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The recent trench death in New York is a Fatal Four tragedy

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Construction Accidents

Construction is a dangerous career. So many workers get hurt or lose their lives on construction jobs that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a list of the Fatal Four risks that employers and workers need to constantly monitor for.

Most people focus on the three most common items on the Fatal Four list. Falls, electrocution and struck-by accidents cause many tragic and likely preventable deaths. However, caught-in or caught-between accidents can be as dangerous and deadly.

A recent construction worker death due to a trench failure in Orange County serves to remind the public of how catastrophic caught in/between incidents can be.

What constitutes a caught-in/between incident?

When a worker becomes trapped between two objects or stuck in a piece of equipment, they have suffered a caught-in/between incident. These can occur anywhere, such as when the forklift backs up into someone and pins them against the wall.

However, they are much more common during excavation or digging at construction sites. Those who work in excavation specifically have twice the likelihood of dying on the job as many other construction workers. Trenches in the earth are a common source of job injuries, as the movement of machinery or the soil could result in suffocation or crushing injuries.

A worker in Orange County recently lost their life when a trench collapsed. In this tragic scenario, the job involved excavating a 10-foot trench. First responders noted the lack of a trench safety box, which may have played a role in the unfortunate outcome of the incident.

The kind of injury doesn’t matter when it comes to benefits

A worker injured in a caught-in/between incident has the same compensation rights as someone who falls off of scaffolding. New York provides for injured employees through workers’ compensation benefits that cover both medical expenses and lost wages. In the tragic event that a construction accident proves fatal, the surviving family members may also have the right to death benefits.

Although the kind of construction accident you suffer doesn’t affect your right to make a claim, it may influence other legal rights that you have. The more egregious the situation, the greater the possibility that the employer may have been negligent or liable for your losses. Failing to provide adequate safety gear, as occurred in this recent tragedy, could open a company up to civil claims.