Worker rescued from trench at Warrnambool work site in two hour operation

A MAN who fell in a trench at a Warrnambool work site has been taken to hospital.

Shortly after 9am on Thursday morning, the Warrnambool Fire Brigade was called to the end of Younger Street to assist with a trench rescue.

A man in his 30s working on a new subdivision had fallen into a trench more than two metres deep and had suspected spinal injuries.

Incident controller Troy Cleverley, of the Warrnambool fire brigade, said the rescue operation was complex as the trench was unstable.

“The first thing we did when we got on scene was attempt to make the scene safe,” Mr Cleverley said.

“We did a bit of atmospheric monitoring in the trench to make sure the air quality was OK.”

Mr Cleverley said the rescue was made easier because the workers were digging new trenches, not accessing existing services such as power or sewerage.

“The injured worker at that stage was at the northern end of the trench – he managed to get that far before he collapsed,” he said.

“They had a worker down there with him reassuring him when we arrived.”

Mr Cleverley said the priority was to ensure the man was calm and the trench was safe for emergency personnel to enter.

“We had to create a shoring system to protect the patient from further collapse for the trench,” he said.

“And we needed to do that to make it safe to allow paramedics to stabilise him.”

Mr Cleverely said plywood panels were used to secure the trench.

About 10.45am paramedics were able to access the trench and take the man to safety with a spine board.

Mr Cleverley said he was pleased with the outcome of the incident.

“The biggest issue was the unstability of the soil and the trench itself – even while we were there there were small cave-ins of sand.

“That was our biggest danger – we couldn’t put any personnel into the trench until we made it safe.”

Mr Cleverley said the rescue prompted a multi-agency response.

“Any rescue like this is pretty complex,” he said.

“We’ve got ambulance, SES and CFA from Warrnambool and Hamilton to ensure we had enough trench rescue qualified personnel.”

Mr Cleverley said Work Safe inspectors were also on-site and would investigate the incident.

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the man had been taken to hospital with lower back injuries.

She said he was in a stable condition.