The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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Bartow County, Georgia – The construction site in Bartow County off I-75 exit 296 experienced a trench collapse; then a worker fell 20 feet and was buried. Firefighters worked furiously to save the man’s life, but couldn’t get to him. The job was making way for a new sewer line. The incident was thirty feet down and forty feet under the roadway, where the man was trapped.
This isn’t rocket science, its dirt work. You follow the safety rules and no one gets hurt, you don’t and someone can die. It’s really that simple. So why are the rules for safety not followed when it involves trench work?
Follow the link to see the video with Stacy Elgin reporting for Fox 5 News.
While we are talking about tunnels and how easily they can collapse let me draw your attention to tunnels in the Middle East. While researching this story I ran across a truly fascinating story about underground tunnels as a way to survive. There is an entire commercial enterprise on digging, running goods through and in owning the underground tunneling system in the Palestinian territories.
“Since Israel imposed its siege on Gaza after Hamas won democratic legislative elections in January 2006, the number of Palestinians tied to some segment of the tunnel industry has grown in direct proportion to the increasing lack of availability of raw materials and basic necessities, including food, fuel and medicine. Palestinian sources estimate that some 6,000 people are employed as diggers in the hundreds of tunnels crisscrossing the Gaza-Egyptian border.
But tunnels are not the romantic passageways portrayed in Hollywood films about World War II or Vietnam. You can die simply upon entering one—as a result of the tunnel collapsing, of suffocation from the tear gas lobbed in by Egyptian authorities, or from electrocution caused by the willy-nilly wiring jerry-rigged to provide lighting and ventilation. You can die simply by getting lost in the maze, or from breathing in the unstable sand. If you’re lucky, your body will be found and given a proper burial.
Like the toll houses of a bygone era, Gaza’s tunnels are owned by individuals who collect fees for their use. One such owner is Abu Khaled, a father of seven. Although he doesn’t dare traverse the 30- to 45-foot tunnel himself for fear it might collapse, Abu Khaled is among a growing number of tunnel entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia corridor, Rafah’s no-man’s-land between Gaza and Egypt. Others involved in the industry include diggers, runners, smugglers and merchants.
Tunnel owners earn $300 for each 100 pounds of goods smuggled in. (Smuggling animals for Gaza’s zoo can net up to $3,000 each!) With this revenue Abu Khaled supports 20 workers: diggers who do the dirty work, and runners who transport the goods. “
Hard to believe this can be the way people are living in this world. What is harder to believe is that the United States spent $28 Million coming up with a tunnel detection system. We can’t get contractors to spend the money for renting tunnel wall supports but we can spend $28 Million on equipment to locate them in the Middle East.
“Under pressure from Washington, Egypt recently escalated its efforts to shut down the tunnels, destroying scores in the past months and fast-tracking the acquisition and implementation of a new $28 million U.S.-made tunnel detection system. Israeli sources confirm that U.S. experts are working with the Egyptians to find and expose the tunnels along the Philadelphia corridor.
Providing the means for Gaza’s businesses to remain operating is a most lucrative form of smuggling. One tunnel owner who just a few months ago could afford nothing and used donkey carts for transportation now has enough money to afford luxury jeeps and merchandise for his wife.
The tunnels are not only used to supply Gazans with food, clothing, medicine, fuel and spare parts, however. They also make it possible to reunite families who have become separated when their non-Palestinian spouses find themselves prevented from reaching their husbands, wives or children as a result of the Israeli-imposed border closures. In desperation, they pay handsomely to be smuggled in or out of Gaza. One smuggler admits to having received $1,000 to reunite a European wife with her Palestinian husband and children living in Gaza.”
Is it only me or do other people see a failure of logic and sound economic policy in all of this?
Back to trench safety in America. Look at this video clip about trench safety. It will help you understand the concept.
Construction Safety - Excavator trench servicing and backfilling
OSHA has plenty of information available on trench and excavation safety.
Trenching and Excavation – by OSHA
The primary hazard of trenching and excavation is employee injury from collapse. Soil analysis is important in order to determine appropriate sloping, benching, and shoring. Additional hazards include working with heavy machinery; manual handling of materials; working in proximity to traffic; electrical hazards from overhead and underground power-lines; and underground utilities, such as natural gas. The following references aid in recognizing and controlling some of the hazards associated with trenching and excavation.
Special Emphasis: Trenching and Excavation. OSHA Directive CPL 02-00-069 [CPL 2.69], (1985, September 19). Establishes a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for the programmed safety inspection of trenching and excavation operations.
Working Outdoors in Warm Climates. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September), 26 KB PDF, 2 pages.
OSHA offers a pamphlet on trench and excavation safety. Here are the warnings.
Trench Safety - OSHA 3197-04N-04
• Do not enter an unprotected trench!
• Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.
• Trenches 5 feet deep or greater require a protective system.
• Trenches 20 feet deep or greater require that the protective system be designed by a registered professional engineer.
Protective Systems for Trenches
• Sloping protects workers by cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation.
• Shoring protects workers by installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement.
• Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins.
Competent Person OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards.
• Inspect trenches at the start of each shift, following a rainstorm or after any other hazardous event.
• Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases before entering a trench.
• Keep heavy equipment and excavation spoils at least two feet away from the trench edge.
• Provide stairways, ladders, ramps or other safe means of access in all trenches 4 feet or deeper.
Like I said it’s not rocket science. Construction workers, be smart, be safe and don’t risk your life for a boss and company that are too stupid and greedy to take the right safety measures. Know how to do the job the right way and if the boss or company asks you to do it wrong, call OSHA. If they fire you call a lawyer. Better to make the OSHA call then your wife calling the morgue.
Betting on tort reform speaks volumes about the mentality that dead workers are just part of a growing economy. It's the same mentality of an Administration that is oblivious to Wall Street greed.
The pace of construction on the Las Vegas strip is some of this country’s most hectic. Visit LasVegasStripDaily.com and you’ll see some of the finest buildings ever built and so many high rise buildings under construction than you’ve probably imagined. Take a look and you’re left with only one thought, simply amazing. But there is a price to be paid.
What you don’t see are the 12 construction workers whose lives have been lost building at projects underway since early in 2007. It’s hard for me to imagine that officials at those construction companies aren’t concerned with the loss of life; they have to be. NIOSH has been in to investigate and written their report. But the articles being published in the Las Vegas press, point to an illusion of safety, rather than real measures of safety. Alexandra Berzon has written a series on the subject and it’s a series well worth reading, especially if you are a construction worker. As you may know I’m big on reading about how other construction workers are being killed in order to know how to prevent a similar tragedy on other construction sites.
There has been much coverage and apparently not enough safety to slow down the death rate.
Construction Worker Deaths on the Strip:
Construction Worker Deaths on the Strip:
Construction Worker Deaths on the Strip:
With President Bush as unapologetic as ever these next few months promise to be a marathon of deregulation attempts by this Administration. They will test the metal of resistance to further deregulatory efforts on the part of his Administration. Deregulation like that occurred on April 28, 2004 at 2:30 PM by the SEC that brought this country to it’s knees. It isn’t enough that this Administration’s policies have caused the American taxpayer more than several trillion dollars of nonproductive spending. It’s not enough that those trillions of dollars could have been used to fix the bridges in American that are either functionally or structurally obsolete. It’s not enough that the Social Security fund continues to be headed to financial insolvency while we spend $10 Billion a month on rebuilding Iraq.
Republicans are you listening?
What is going on in America? What is going on in the American mind? We sit idly by as this Administration continues on its path of destruction seemingly oblivious to further damage to the fabric that holds this country together. The Bush Administration should feel shame for the environment they have created that has allowed greed to become the soup de jour on Wall Street. This is not the case. With its head held high, chest puffed out like a bandy rooster the Administration moves to make further regulatory changes they see as necessary and that will surely cause years of damage to America. At what point does pride become foolish? At what point does America wake up to the fact this President is not smart enough to lead this country? At what point will this country’s Congressional leadership take the reigns and shut down any and all efforts by this Administration to do anything.
More than six years ago I thought that while impeachment would be costly for America it would in the end be less expensive than the cost to repair the damage this Administration would surely do to America before the first term ended. I only wish my prediction had been incorrect. In many ways the actions of this Administration mirror the construction on the Las Vegas strip. They continue to forge ahead at a frenetic pace leaving carnage in their wake, undeterred by the damage they have caused and the lives they have disrupted or ruined. Like Las Vegas, we will survive this President and his policies that if continued unabated would surely befall America as greed befell the Roman Empire. Greed has become a cultural norm that is driving us into bankruptcy.
Republicans have to start thinking about more than just re-election campaign contributions.
This President lacked several developmental skills on the day he took office, and he still does. If the Kennedy Administration was Camelot, the Bush Administration is the Wizard of Oz. If Camelot was John and Jackie’s Theme song then If Only I Had A Brain is the theme song for this Administration.
If Only I Had A Brain
I could wile away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain
I'd unravel any riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain
Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean's near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit and think some more
I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain
But I’m getting off the topic. We need to get this President out of office and to get this country back on track. The Republican Party is ruining itself as a political force by abandoning the principles that made it sensibly popular a few years ago. The Republican candidates are selling their souls to the highest bidder, the Religious Right and cloaking themselves with Wall Street avarice. At this point if it’s not apparent to John McCain and those who control the Party, the party is over because the Emperor has no clothes. Get back to basics, stop spending, pay off debt, stay out of the business of other countries, focus on the problems of this country even when that means regulations and higher taxes and the Republican Party can once again rise from the dead. Winning for the sake of winning is much like Conservative Chic that promotes popularity over principle. In other words, jettison the Barbie Doll from Alaska; she makes no sense.
Is the Republican Party dead? No but this Administration has gone to great lengths to drive nail after nail into the Republican coffin. The Republican’s left in the Senate and House would gain much political capital with voters by stopping this Administration in its tracks before this President leaves office in January. Do everything you can as Congressmen to stop him and his efforts that further damage this country.