A construction area collapse in Brooklyn yesterday cost a worker his life. The man was waterproofing the foundation of the Leif Ericson Day School in Dyker Heights while standing aside a trench dug next to the building. According to WCBS news, the trench was said to measure two to three feet wide, 15 feet long and eight feet deep. The construction worker, who hasn't been named, appears to have fallen into the trench as it collapsed at 2:40 p.m. yesterday afternoon.
Rescue workers arrived soon after the accident and a vacuum truck was employed to remove dirt as quickly as possible to extricate the man, but he died before he could be pulled from the cave-in. According to this slide presentation (PDF format) from OSHA about NYC guidelines for safe trench excavations, any trench deeper than five feet must be reinforced in one of a number of ways, including a cut-step excavation, a sloped excavation, the installation of hydraulic or other horizontal bracings, or the installation of a trench box. It's difficult to see in the image above, with all the rescue workers crowded around the accident site, if this trench was properly constructed.
Last year, archaeologist Alison Boles was buried alive when the trench she was working in near the South Ferry Terminal collapsed as she was excavating an old seawall. The wall itself likely dates from 1730-1766 and is on display at Castle Clinton. Boles survived, but was pulled from the trench with a broken toe, fractured pelvis, and missing some teeth. She said earlier this year, "It's a very lonely feeling being buried in soil with your teeth knocked out." We don't even want to imagine.