How trench tragedy should have been avoided

Clifton Park, Md. (WMAR) -

A class full of potential construction workers in Northeast Baltimore didn’t expect part of their safety lecture to include a tragic example from the day before right around the corner.

“It’s sad he lost his life but we got to learn from that,” one of the students in the Project JumpStart class explained to Safety Director Andrew Cook.

The topic of construction training on Wednesday was on worksite safety.

On Tuesday 20-year-old Kyle Hancock was 15 feet underground working to fix a sewer line.

RELATED: Victim identified from deadly trench collapse in Clifton Park

The young man was just starting his career working for R.F. Warder Incorporated.

Working in a dangerous environment that Baltimore City Fire Spokesperson Blair Skinner said should have been avoided.

“When we arrived on scene there was no shoring in place,” said Skinner. “The environment they were in was not safe or conducive for them to go in there any way to start digging.”

Cook told his students that under no circumstances should they work in an unprotected trench.

“No one needs to enter a trench unprotected, it is your right as a worker to ask for protective systems to be in place before you enter a trench.”

He said any excavation over 5 feet should have some type of protective system.

“A lot of people slope it away if you have the room you can use a 2 to 1 slope. Basically, looks like a V coming out of the trench. Or you can use shoring which is an engineered system you put in place. Or a trench box which a lot of people are familiar with and that’s shielding. That protects the worker inside the box while he’s inside the trench.”

Hancock was killed by one of the top four hazards on Occupational Safety and Health Administrations website, being caught in or between hazards.

"All trenches should be inspected by a competent person,” Saud Hancock. “Somebody who has the knowledge and skills to recognize existing and potential hazards and have the authority to prevent these hazards from happening.”

Maryland Occupation Safety and Health are investigating Hancock's case.

A young man just beginning his journey, now a tragic reminder of the importance of safety.

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