Construction Worker Suffers Significant Injuries After Falling Into Ditch

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on January 2, 2018

Construction Expert WitnessThis case involves a construction worker who was seriously injured after falling into a ditch on a construction site. On the date of the incident in question, the man was working as a an electrician during the installation of a section of underground power lines. The job site included a deep trench that the lines were being set into at a depth of approximately 6 feet. The worker was standing on the edge of the trench and inspecting a length of cable when a backhoe struck him in the back, causing him to fall into the trench. As a result of his fall, the man suffered a number of injuries, most significantly to his spine, which have since prevented him from working.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your familiarity with the standard of care for construction sites when this equipment is in use.
  • 2. What is the standard training procedure for employees as it pertains to individual construction sites and the machinery that may be in use on each construction job site?

Expert Witness Response E-046805

I have been working in the field of construction safety specifically for the last 7 years, and in construction leadership positions for the 30 years. I am an OSHA outreach trainer for the construction industry, and a certified construction health and safety technician. I have often worked on construction sites where this equipment is in use. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide employees with a place of employment that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious injury.” The most common method to identify those hazards is through the use of an Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA). An AHA identifies work activities, identifies hazards caused by that activity, and identifies a control or controls to mitigate that hazard. For example, the Activity Hazard Analysis may have identified an exclusion zone around the activity of the backhoe. 29 CFR 1926.20 (b)(4) requires that “The employer shall permit only those employees qualified by training or experience to operate machinery and equipment.”

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