Recently, a cemetery worker in Long Island was seriously injured after he was nearly buried alive. The worker had been digging a grave when excavated dirt had fallen back into the grave opening, burying him up to his waist. The incident led to an OSHA investigation into the safety practices of the cemetery.
OSHA proposed a total of $123,200 in penalties for two willful and three serious violations. The investigation uncovered that the cemetery had not implemented the OSHA required support system for trenching or excavation. According to OSHA regulations, restraining devices must be implemented within two feet of the edge of a trench in order to keep the excavated dirt from falling back into the grave. The worker’s injuries were a result of failure to implement such support systems. Additionally, the investigation’s findings included discovering that equipment used for protective systems was damaged or defective; ladders used did not meet the height regulation; and grave slopes not meeting the proper ratio requirements.
Workers in the cemetery industry can face any number of injuries ranging from falls, injuries related to operating machinery or carrying headstones, as well as hazards related to trenching and excavation. Essentially, digging at a grave site is an excavation like those performed in the construction industry. In addition to the hazards workers face by the potentiality of a wall collapse without proper trench support, they can also be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Workers should have their own personal protective gear such as hard hats to prevent head injury from falling rocks or dirt. In addition, workers should wear respiratory protection to limit the inhalation of elements such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane that can appear in the soil.
An individual can suffocate as a result of being only partially buried in soil. Therefore, it is extremely important to exercise all precautions and follow safety procedures when conducting any kind of excavation to prevent a cave-in. To learn more about OSHA’s trenching and excavation regulations, click here.
If you are a worker who has suffered injury due to an employer’s failure to follow excavation or trenching safety regulations, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, represents individuals who have been injured on the job throughout the five boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866)557-7500 for a consultation.