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MTA Announces New Safety Measures as Subway Worker Trapped in Mud Recovers

By  Victoria Bekiempis and Stefanie DeAngelo | March 20, 2013 6:53pm | Updated on March 20, 2013 8:04pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will implement new safety measures in the wake of a construction worker's four-hour ordeal stuck in the mud of a Second Avenue subway construction site on Tuesday, officials said.

“We’re taking a number of precautions,” said Michael Horodniceanu, president of the MTA's Capital Construction Company.

The transit agency will require workers to wear safety harnesses and put orange cones by mucky areas like the sludgy pit at Second Avenue and East 94th Street that trapped Joseph Barone, 51, of Lyndhurst, N.J., 75 feet belowground Tuesday evening until rescue workers could free him.

“It’s clay, and the clay was sucking me and everything with the water, it wouldn’t release me,” Barone told CBS Chanel 2 News. “That’s what it was. It was just sucking me in.”

Barone, who has 27 years of experience in the construction business, was still recovering in New York-Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday evening from the bruises he suffered during the rescue, the MTA said.

Dirt from the excavation project and water from underground springs often mix in the tunnels and create a hazardous slurry that makes work dangerous, MTA officials said.

The MTA said Barone stepped off a set of matted planks placed over the mud to prevent workers from sinking in and could not get out.

He was not wearing a harness when he first became lodged in the mud, but co-workers quickly threw him one when they saw he was stuck, officials said. The harness kept him from sinking further, but it took 155 firefighters and Con Edison's vacuum trucks to pull him out.

Though Barone had only been working in the tunnel for two months, he told WCBS he is eager to get out of the hospital.

“He’s looking to come back to work and we are happy to have him back,” Horodniceanu said.

Work on the project is expected to resume Thursday.