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Was fatal trench collapse the result of a safety violation?

Whenever a fatal workplace accident occurs in Ohio -- or any other state -- the Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically investigates the circumstances of the incident. Investigators will determine whether a safety violation caused the death, and, if so, the employer will be cited and may have to pay penalties. However, the surviving family members of the deceased worker will have to cope with the trauma of the unanticipated tragedy and also the financial consequences.

A 22-year-old father of three recently died in a workplace accident in another state. Accident reports indicate that the young man was working on a state transportation project. Reportedly, the worker was trapped in a 16-foot trench that had collapsed. There is no indication of the level of protection that was offered to the worker in the trench. 

Firefighters arrived at the scene on the morning of the accident to find the trapped worker entirely buried under the soil. Dozens of emergency workers tried to save the young man's life, but their efforts were in vain. He was asphyxiated by the load of soil that overwhelmed him.

Sadly, many families of workers nationwide, including in Ohio, have to cope with such tragic losses every year. Fortunately, financial relief is available, and, although the tragedy cannot be undone, death benefits may ease the financial burden. Death benefits claims may be filed with the workers' compensation insurance system. This is a no-fault system, and regardless of whether a safety violation caused the death, benefits will cover end-of-life expenses and a portion of lost income to assist the dependents with financial obligations for a period after the worker's death.

Source: kentucky.com, "Construction worker is killed in trench collapse on Todds Road", Michael McKay, May 4, 2016

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