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Two Hispanic construction laborers (ages fifteen and sixteen) die after trench collapse - South Carolina.

NIOSH 2004 Feb; :1-8
On January 28, 2003, two Hispanic construction laborers [15 and 16-year-old brothers] (the victims) died when the trench they were working in experienced a cave-in. The victims were members of a crew installing conduit in an eight-foot-deep by two-foot-wide trench. When work started, the jobsite foreman instructed the crew leader to operate a backhoe to dig the trench. The foreman then left the site to check on another job. After approximately an hour, the crew leader grounded the bucket, turned the machine off and walked to the company trailer to check blueprints. As he was looking at the blueprints, he heard loud voices outside the trailer from the direction of the ditch. As he exited the trailer, he was informed by one of the workers that the trench had collapsed and that the two employees had been covered up. The emergency medical squad (EMS) was summoned and responded within minutes. Coworkers had uncovered the victims and removed them from the trench as the rescue squad arrived. The victims could not be revived and the county coroner was summoned to the scene where he pronounced the victims dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure that a competent person conducts daily inspection of excavations, adjacent areas, and protective systems and takes appropriate measures necessary to protect workers; 2. ensure that workers are protected from cave-ins by an adequate protective system; 3.develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program for all workers which includes training in hazard recognition and the avoidance of unsafe conditions; 4. pursue every effort to ensure that documentation of age is authentic and that youth < 18 years of age are not assigned to prohibited tasks and are appropriately supervised; 5. ensure that workers who are part of a multilingual workforce comprehend instructions in safe work procedures for the tasks to which they are assigned; and, 6. ensure that only qualified rescue personnel who have assumed responsibility for rescue operations and site safety should attempt rescue operations. Additionally, site project management companies should consider ensuring through contract language that contractors have a comprehensive safety and health program that addresses all aspects of the jobs they are to perform.
Region-4; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injury-prevention; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Age-factors; Construction-workers; Construction-industry; Safety-equipment; Protective-equipment; Construction-Search
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health