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Crushing Cave-in traps worker

Southern Colorado Insurance is your partner in being Safe and smart. To the Excavation contractors here at SCIC and thoughout Colorado...
Safety Smart shared this experience

"The sight was enough to make three grown men cry. Their co-worker was chest-deep in mud and only a few inches from death.
Glen D. Rogers of Elsah, IL, said the trench cave-in at his worksite June 3 felt like an entire football team had piled on top of him. He couldn't move and could barely breathe.

"I thought I was going to die . . . I just wanted to talk to my wife and kids."

Those were his desperate thoughts as co-workers and firefighters worked feverishly to save him.

Not long before that, Rogers, 34, was busily working in a trench to tap into a sewer line for a new house. He had just cleared off a section of pipe and began walking away when a contractor yelled that the trench was collapsing. Rogers looked behind him and then at his feet, which were buried in mud. Seconds later his legs disappeared, followed by his waist.

At one point, co-workers quickly jammed a couple of boards in the hole to offset the pressure that was crushing Rogers. Both Rogers and his wife believe this is what saved him from certain death.

"His co-workers basically saved his life. If they hadn't done that (with the boards), he would be dead", said wife Audrey Stewart.

A grateful Stewart said all employees should receive some type of emergency rescue training.

For Rogers, the cave-in fortunately stopped at his chest, but with every breath he took, the dirt acted like a vice tightening around him.

Rogers instructed his co-workers to begin a rescue plan by digging a ditch on the other side of the trench he was in. When firefighters arrived, they continued the work.

"They dug down to my waist and the blood rushed back into my legs. I thought I had lost my legs because I looked down and they were flat."

The rescue took about four hours. Luckily, Rogers recovered quickly and was back on light duty a few days later.

Since the ordeal, Rogers and fellow workers have adopted a new sense of job safety by taking nothing for granted and always wearing their safety gear.

"I now find myself green again, being real cautious about where I walk", Rogers said.

He noted that some employees are afraid to speak up about hazardous work conditions for fear of losing their jobs. But it's better then losing their lives.

Felipe Devora, senior safety and health specialist for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said nobody should enter an unprotected trench.

Devora said there is also a false sense of security when workers enter trenches that aren't that deep.

He noted there were 53 trench fatalities last year. In reviewing 34 of them, it was discovered that 75 percent had no protection system in place.


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