A rescue team used shovels, air bags and riggings to free a construction worker who was trapped in a trench for three hours Monday at a downtown Minneapolis building site.
Heavier hydraulic equipment could not be used because backfill could have caused a second collapse, said Minneapolis Fire Department Deputy Chief Todd White.
“It had to be done by hand,” he said. “It was a long, meticulous rescue to dig him out.”
The man, who works for a Kraus-Anderson subcontractor, was talking, alert and in stable condition when he was lifted out in a stretcher basket around 11 a.m. and taken to HCMC, White said.
A wall at the below-ground site where a 17-story, 204-unit mixed-use building is going up at the corner of Washington and Park avenues gave way just after 8 a.m. The worker, who was alone in the area, was trapped in sand up to his knees. One of his legs was caught in the shoring that also collapsed, White said.
More than 16 members of technical rescue teams from the Minneapolis and St. Paul fire departments worked to free the man, whose name was not released.
Paramedics and doctors were with the man during the rescue. White said rescuers were initially worried that his leg would have to be amputated, but that was not necessary.
“This is a feather in a technical rescuer’s hat,” said White, who added that the man is expected to be fine.
In a statement, Kraus-Anderson said the worker is from a subcontractor on its 240 Park construction site. It said he was removing some retaining wall boards when his foot got caught between the board and the building’s footings.
“We are continuing to investigate the cause of this incident, as part of our ongoing comprehensive safety program for the project,” the statement said.
This was the third time this summer that technical rescue teams have been called to an incident at a construction site in Minneapolis. One person was rescued from a construction-related accident at a parking ramp being demolished across from the Hennepin County courthouse in June. Another rescue involved a worker who was hurt when scaffolding gave way at a different work site, White said.
Since 2015, workers trapped in trenches have led to three deaths in Minnesota, according to OSHA. Additionally, Minnesota employers are cited an average of 35 times a year for not providing employees working in an excavation site with an adequate protective system, OSHA said.
Minnesota OSHA is investigating Monday’s incident, a spokesman said.