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Trench collapses on construction worker

In a recent construction accident far south of New York City, a rescue effort was turned into a recovery mission after a 39-year-old worker was buried by dirt in a trench collapse.

An investigation into what caused the trench collapse on the campus of North Carolina State University is underway. The fatal accident happened nearly a week ago.

Firefighters were apparently quickly on the scene, but because of the amount of dirt covering the man, it was determined that only recovery, rather than rescue, was possible. It took firefighters more than two and a half hours using heavy equipment to recover the worker's body.

Early media reports indicated that a trench box had been in place in the four-foot trench, but the walls gave way regardless and the man was covered by about three feet of dirt.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as local and university police are looking into what caused the collapse while the man was working to help install a water line for the city of Raleigh.

The company the man worked for was cited in 2007 by state inspectors for five serious violations, including the absence of a trench box designed to prevent cave-ins.

A spokesperson for the state Labor Department said, "(a) cave-in will hit the sides of the box and won't go any further."

Among the other violations cited five years ago were placing equipment or excavated dirt too close to the edge of a trench and not having a ladder or ramp in the trench.

According to news reports, North Carolina hasn't had a construction worker die in a trench collapse since late 2009. There have been other trench collapses there since, however, including one in May of this year in which a worker was injured.

After a worksite injury, an attorney experienced in worker protection law can help ensure full and fair compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages and diminished earning capacity.

Source: ABC, "Body recovered from trench on NCSU campus," Nov. 21, 2012

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