The owners of excavating companies have an enormous responsibility to protect their employees from the multiple hazards they have to face on a daily basis. The number of injuries and fatalities in excavation and trench accidents in Iowa and other states represent a significant percentage of total workplace injuries recorded nationally every year. For this reason, there are strict safety regulations to which employers must adhere.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently completed an investigation into a January trench collapse that claimed the life of a 30-year-old worker. The incident occurred in St. Charles where the man was working in a trench that was 12 feet deep. OSHA investigators determined that the rule for the walls of trenches exceeding a depth of five feet to be supported was disregarded.
Trenches must be inspected by a qualified person to ensure the walls are adequately supported and that other specifications, such as access and exit routes, meet safety standards. It was reported that the company also failed to ensure that the worker wore a protective helmet. It was determined that this man's death was caused by injuries that could have been prevented.
The citations and penalties this company received may encourage compliance with safety regulations, and it may benefit workers in the future, but it cannot change what happened when this worker suffered fatal workplace injuries in this trench collapse. The emotional trauma of the surviving family members -- one of whom is his young son on whose fourth birthday this tragedy occurred -- is indescribable. However, their financial burden could be eased by the death benefits that may be claimed through the Iowa workers' compensation insurance program. Along with compensation for the funeral and burial costs, workers' compensation will also provide a financial package to help the dependents with the day-to-day living expenses for a predetermined period.
Source: whotv.com, "Company Fined for 3 Violations, Including Trench Collapse That Killed Worker", April 12, 2016