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Construction worker trapped in mud at subway work site

In a story that has attracted national attention online, a construction worker was recently rescued after suffering injuries while working on New York City's subway system. The man was trapped for several hours in mud that came up to his chest as 150 firefighters worked to rescue him. He had been working on improvements to an existing subway line.

Residents of Phoenix and the Sun Valley are probably familiar with the metro area's own light rail system. While the rescue effort in this construction accident may have been more difficult due to the fact that the man was trapped in a tunnel 75 feet underground, the case still illustrates that whenever anyone strives to improve any modern transportation system, in Arizona or elsewhere, a construction worker accident can occur if employers do not take utmost caution to prevent them.

For example, while the details are still somewhat sketchy in this case, it may have been the result of controlled blasting, as at least one source mentioned a previous subway construction incident involving a controlled blast that spewed rocks in the streets above. While blasting is often necessary even when doing above-ground road construction or other improvements, calling any massive explosion "controlled" may be a misnomer.

Whenever doing blasting, an employer is necessarily subject to a variety of federal and state regulations. Over and above those regulations, however, an employer doing "controlled" blasting needs to ensure that employees understand both safety protocol and emergency procedures should something go wrong. Fortunately, should something go wrong at an Arizona blasting site and a worker gets injured as a result while on the job, he or she will probably be eligible for workers' compensation.

The man in this case is suffering from hypothermia and, at last report, was in serious condition at a hospital. Three firefighters were also injured in the rescue effort.

Source: The Washington Post, "NYC subway construction worker rescued after hours stuck in mud in underground tunnel," March 20, 2013

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