Excavation Accidents

Lawyers Helping Injury Victims in New York

Trenching and excavation operations are common features in a wide variety of construction projects in New York State. Excavation work involves making cuts or depressions in the surface of the earth in order to remove earth. Trenches are any excavations below the earth that are up to fifteen feet wide. State and federal laws and regulations require excavation to be conducted in a safe way. When appropriate safety protocols are not followed during construction resulting in excavation accidents, workers may suffer serious injuries or death. If you are injured or a loved one was killed in an excavation accident, you should consult White Plains excavation accident lawyer Mark Siesel about whether you have a viable claim.

Excavation and Trenching

Excavating is dangerous work. Around two workers die every month in trench collapses. Dangers faced by workers performing excavation include falls, toxic fumes, flammable contaminants and falling loads or objects. Among the greatest dangers in excavation accidents are cave-ins. Cave-ins can result in suffocation and worker fatalities.

Excavating and trenching are regulated by the New York Industrial Code, along with Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA). Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code requires excavation operations to implement benching, sloping, bracing, shoring, and sheeting to prevent cave-ins. OSHA regulations mandate that there be appropriate emergency rescue equipment when there are dangerous atmospheric conditions, along with construction of proper ramps and protective systems.

Labor Law 200 Claims for Excavation Accidents

Labor Law 200 codifies common law negligence. It provides that construction sites should be operated in such a way as to give reasonable and adequate protection to workers from general construction site dangers.

If a worker is injured or killed because an owner or contractor failed to take reasonable steps to protect workers and the result was an excavation accident, an excavation accident attorney in White Plains may be able to recover compensation for you in a lawsuit. For example, if a contractor or owner doesn’t protect the walls of a deep trench that’s being excavated by a backhoe, and as a result the walls collapse, killing the worker, there may be a claim under Labor Law 200. Similarly, all equipment at a construction site should be properly guarded. If, for example, an employer fails to reasonably maintain a hydraulic excavator and a worker is hit on the head with a quick-disconnect bucket, and as a result he sustains traumatic brain injury, the employer may be held liable.

Labor Law 240

Labor Law 240 is also known as the Scaffold Law. It mandates that property owners and contractors need to give workers appropriate safety protection against gravity-related accidents. All contractors and owners, other than owners of one and two-family dwellings must furnish or erect hoists, scaffolding, ladders, stays, hangers, slings, ladders, pulleys, blocks, hangers, ropes, irons, braces and other devices that should be so operated, placed, or constructed in order to give appropriate protection to a worker when their work contributes to the pointing, cleaning, painting, altering, repairing, demolition or erection of a building or structure. Gravity-related accidents could involve a worker’s fall into a trench dug in connection with erecting a building. However, gravity-related accidents could also involve situations in which an object that’s improperly hoisted or inadequately secured falls onto a worker who is in a trench.

Appropriate safety protection could include guards, safety harnesses, barricades, nets, rails, and fencing. Contractors or owners that do not provide the appropriate safety devices can be held absolutely liable with the assistance of a White Plains excavation accident attorney for accidents that occur as a result. For example, if you were not provided a safety harness when working around a trench and fell into the trench, sustaining broken bones and paralysis, your attorney may be able to file a claim against a contractor or owner. For another example, if you weren’t provided a hardhat and safety gear and an improperly secured load being lifted over the trench falls on top of you, causing injuries, there could be liability under Labor Law 240.

Labor Law 241(6)

Under 241(6), any area where excavation is supposed to be conducted needs to be operated, arranged, guarded, equipped, shored in order to give adequate and reasonable protection and safety to those working there or frequenting the place. The commission is allowed to make rules that implement this law and owners and contractors, along with their agents are supposed to comply. Owners of one or two-family dwellings who enter into a contract for work but don’t direct or control that work are not required to comply.

In order to establish liability and recover compensation, you’ll need to show there was a violation of Part 23 of the New York Industrial Code. For example, §23-4.2 provides that any trench in loam, silt, sand, or clay that has banks or sides that are 3-5 feet should be given side or bank protection unless a trained, qualified person has certified that he’s examined the sides and they’re not subject to failure, and that certification is kept at the site. If no side or bank protection is provided in violation of § 23-4.2, and there’s no certification, and the sides collapse, causing a worker to suffocate, there may be a claim under Labor Law 241(6).

Retain an Excavation Accident Lawyer in White Plains

If you were injured in an excavation accident in the New York City area or the Hudson River Valley, you should talk to Mark A. Siesel. You may be able to file a lawsuit for damages. We represent clients in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, and Ulster Counties. Call us at (914) 428-7386 or complete our online form.

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