Rosenberg Trench Collapse Tragically Kills Houston Utility Contractor
A Houston utility worker died tragically yesterday afternoon when a trench collapsed near Rosenberg, Texas.
Trench Collapse Victim Was Laying Telecommunications Lines
According to the Rosenberg Police Department, the deceased was one of three workers laying lines at the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 2218 and Bryan Road for an unidentified telecommunications contractor.
One member of the crew was operating machinery while the two others worked in the 8-foot trench. The 32-year-old man became trapped when the trench suddenly collapsed shortly before 12:30 p.m. on February 12th.
Some 30 first responders, including the specially trained Fort Bend County Technical Response Team, arrived moments later and attempted to rescue the man. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Trench May Have Lacked Supports Before Deadly Collapse
“It’s very dangerous work to be working in a trench, anything can happen. Dirt can move very quickly especially when it’s wet or if you’re working in loose sand which is why we take safety very seriously when we respond to these incidents,” Jason Albert, deputy chief of the Fort Bend County Emergency Medical Services, told KPRC 2
The cause of Thursday’s fatal trench collapse remains under investigation. However, sources later told KPRC 2 the work area did not appear to be supported by a trench box – a standard safety precaution.
Rosenberg police have asked the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration to investigate yesterday’s fatal accident.
Trench Collapse Fatalities are Preventable
Between 2013 and 2017, 97 construction workers in the United States died as a result of a trench collapse or cave-in. That’s an average of 17 fatalities per year.
A trench collapse is sudden, and most workers won’t have time to escape to safety. A single cubic yard of dirt can weigh more 3,000 lbs. – about the weight of a compact car – and can easily crush or suffocate those trapped by a collapsing trench. Even small, single pieces of dirt can result in serious injuries.
Careful planning is required to guard against a trench collapse. Before work begins, employers should call 811 to have utility lines marked and designate a competent person to:
- Ensure all safety measures are in place and followed.
- Evaluate the soil to ensure the ground is stable enough for a trench.
- Determine the specific type of protective system that will be needed.
- Identify safe spots away from the trench for spoil piles and heavy machinery routes.
Once work is underway, the competent person should remain on site to inspect the excavation area, all adjacent areas, and protective systems before work begins each day, throughout the shift, and after every rainstorm.
All vehicles must be kept at a safe distance from the trench, and ladders and other means of escape must be no more than 25 feet away from workers at all times.
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