Trenches are known to be some of the most dangerous areas for construction activities nationwide, including here in Ohio. According to research, the weight of a cubic yard of soil is similar to that of a small car — or about 3,000 pounds. It is therefore not surprising that many workers who are trapped in collapsed trenches do not survive. Failure to train workers in trench safety can lead to a safety violation citation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently completed an investigation of a workplace fatality in which a worker lost his life when a trench collapsed last October. The agency determined that several safety violations caused this worker’s death. An area director of OSHA said any trench with a depth of five feet or more must be secured according to prescribed regulations.

Investigators determined that this employer failed to train employees to recognize safety hazards. Worksites were also not inspected by competent individuals. Moreover, access and exit provisions were not provided. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $91,000.

When a family loses a loved one in a workplace accident — regardless of whether the death resulted from a safety violation — they are entitled to pursue compensation to assist with end-of-life expenses and the unanticipated loss of income. Death benefits claims may be filed with the Ohio workers’ compensation insurance system. Once it is determined that the employee’s death resulted from a work-related injury, the program will provide compensation to help the family move forward after their loss. This typically also includes a percentage of the decedent’s wages based on his or her most recent income level.

Source: workerscompensation.com, “Ohio Trench Collapse Caused 26-Year-Old Worker’s Death“, March 17, 2016