Laborers Local 110 member recovering after trench accident in St. Charles

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TRENCH RESCUE: A mutual aid team from across St. Charles County rescues a Laborers Local 110 member July 10 after he was pinned in a trench by the trackhoe of an excavator after the ground gave way under the piece of equipment. – St. Charles Fire Department photo

By SHERI GASSAWAY
Correspondent

A Laborers Local 110 member is home recovering after a trench accident at a St. Charles construction site.

On July 10, Josh Lucas was working in a trench box 15 to 20 feet underground at the new Sandfort Farms subdivision when the ground gave way under a nearby excavator, said Don Willey, Laborers Local 110 business manager. The trackhoe lunged down into the ditch, pinning Lucas.

“When you hear the words ‘trench accident,’ your heart goes into your stomach because those accidents are very often fatal,” Willey said.

FIRST RESPONDERS BUILT A HAULING SYSTEM TO EXTRICATE
Crews from the St. Charles Fire Department teamed up with the Cottleville Fire Protection District, Central County Fire & Rescue and St. Charles County Ambulance District to rescue Lucas. They described Lucas as having moderate injuries, stabilized him inside the trench and then a built a hauling system to extricate him.

Originally, the St. Charles Fire Department reported the incident as excavator accident resulting in a construction worker falling into a 15- to 20-foot trench. After speaking with union officials, the department updated the information on its Facebook page.

“We would like to thank the Operators and Laborers on scene for the clarifying information and thank them for their professionalism on scene as well as their help in the rescue efforts,” the department wrote.

An employee of Budrovich Construction, Lucas has been with Local 110 since 2017. After he was freed from the trench, he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for a back injury. Willey said he will be out of work for about three months.

NO CITATIONS ISSUED
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) visited the site the day of the accident, but issued no citations. Willey said Budrovich is a “top-notch contractor that doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to safety.”

“Josh was where he needed to be and doing what he was supposed to be doing at the site, but accidents do happen,” he said.

Willey spoke to Lucas on the phone on July 16 and said he was in good spirits.

‘LIFE-THREATENING NEAR MISS’
“He described the experience as a ‘life-threatening near miss,’” Willey said. “I encouraged him to be mindful of his mental status after undergoing such a traumatic situation. Worker’s comp isn’t just for broken bones, it’s also for mental health.”

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