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Crews rescue Texas worker trapped in tunnel

Construction workers perform some of the most dangerous jobs around, in Texas and the rest of the country. This is because construction workers typically work with heavy machinery in settings that are not safe for the general public. Consequently, it is extremely important that construction companies enforce health and safety regulations.

A recent rescue story out of Lubbock County in northwestern Texas is an example of the dangerous working environment that construction workers endure on a daily basis and reiterates the importance of safety.

On Friday, close to 50 emergency workers were called to assist an injured man who had been working on the local Lake Alan Henry Pipeline project. The worker was trapped in a narrow underground pipe for an hour after a push cart that was used to haul dirt out of the tunnel derailed and fell on to him, trapping him 80 feet into the pipe and breaking both of his legs.

Rescue workers climbed into the pipe, which was only about 72 inches in diameter, and freed the worker from underneath the push cart. They then strapped him to a rescue basket and put splints on his injured limbs. Then they were able to raise the worker out from the tunnel using a pulley system they created with a safety line on a nearby crane, which took approximately 15 minutes to do.

According to reports, the worker was hired by a subcontractor of the dirt-removal project for Western Summit Constructors, the general contractor. The job site was immediately shut down by city officials so that there could be a safety evaluation and an investigation to determine why the push cart malfunctioned, the city's chief engineer said.

The Lake Alan Henry Pipeline project is a city project that is located near the water treatment plant and is designed to carry treated water from Lake Alan Henry through a system of similar pipes to the city of Lubbock.

As with most construction projects, there are several parties involved here, including a general contractor, subcontractor and then the city. Should the injured worker end up receiving worker's compensation benefits, he will not be able to sue his direct employer for negligence. However, it may still be possible for him to sue a third party who is partially responsible for the accident, such as the general contractor or the city.

Source: Lubbock Online, "Emergency crews rescue construction worker trapped in tunnel," Robin Pyle, 7/2/2011.

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