Employees of construction companies and other businesses in Minnesota that utilize excavation in their enterprise may have noted a case that happened in New Jersey with some interest. A trench that was had apparently been inappropriately constructed and maintained collapsed, killing two workers that had been digging inside it. OSHA released a statement blaming the management of the company for placing their workers in danger by failing to follow a wide variety of safety procedures.
The men were working on a historic farm in Boonton as employees of Bednar Landscape Services Inc. They were excavating a deep trench to install a French drain when a cave-in occurred, burying them in the earth.
The landscaping company that employed the two men has been cited for ten safety violations, one of which concerned an allegedly willful act of unsafe operation. The other nine were stated to be serious. OSHA recommended that the company face a fine of $77,000 for their various alleged misdeeds. The failure to shore the trench up, adequately slope the walls or protect the trench with shields was construed as a willful violation. The lack of ladders in the trench, the failure to provide head protection or proper training to the workers, the dearth of safety inspections and other factors were cited among the serious violations.
Any worker injury or worker death that has been caused by the egregious neglect or willful misconduct of the employer may be eligible for more redress than the base payments provided by the workers’ compensation laws. It may be helpful to consult with a lawyer and examine a particular case so as to determine the proper course of action.
Source: EHS Today, “OSHA: Lack of Cave-In Protections Led to Trench Collapse,” Sandy Smith, April 10, 2015