Excavation and trenching are known to be very hazardous, which is why there are numerous safety requirements companies must follow when work is performed. Generally, if employees will be working in trenches four feet deep or more, there must be protective systems in place to prevent dirt sides from caving in. Among other safety requirements, trenches must have ladders, ramps or other ways for workers to exit an excavated trench and soil conditions must be monitored for changes regularly. If precautions are not taken at excavation and trenching job sites, workers are at risk. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car and, when unsupported trenches collapse, a worker can be buried instantly often resulting in death.
In what is believed to be the first case of a company being charged with a felony in connection with an employee’s death, a Seattle business owner is now facing manslaughter charges after an employee was killed in a trench collapse two years ago. An investigation into the matter revealed that the worker, who was replacing a sewer line outside a residence, was buried in a 7’deep by 2′ wide trench that was not supported. The excavated area lacked a means of escape, had lose dirt and other materials immediately around the edges of the trench, and no daily inspections of soil conditions had been conducted despite days of rain. Although the company knew what the safety risks and requirements were, they chose to ignore them resulting in the worker’s death.
Iowa Workplace Accident Lawyers
The case underscores the importance of following and ensuring compliance to safety rules that are in place to protect workers. Unfortunately, when employers do not hold up there end of the bargain, workers are at greater risk for preventable injury and even death. If you or a family member has been seriously hurt in a workplace or in a work site accident because your employer failed in their duty to provide a safe and healthful work environment, it is important to seek help. Contact the personal injury – workers’ compensation – wrongful death attorneys at the law offices of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for immediate assistance today at 563-355-6478.
Source: Seattle Times “Seattle contractor charged with felony for employee’s death in 2016 trench collapse”, accessed January 9, 2018