Working in trenches can be life-threatening. Despite clear safety guidelines and regulations prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the number of fatalities in nationwide trench collapses so far this year is more than double that of last year. It is rare for a person to survive a trench collapse, and even only one safety violation can lead to death.

When reading the reports of OSHA investigators about a fatal Ohio trench collapse in June, it is difficult to understand how the death of this Ohio worker can be called an accident. Reportedly, a 33-year-old employee died when the walls of a 12-foot deep trench collapsed and buried him under masses of soil. Inspectors say there were no safety measures in place to secure the trench walls.

What makes this incident unacceptable is the report that the same worker survived a similar incident a month earlier in another trench that was also unsafe. He was one of only a few trench collapse victims that survived, but his employer continued to tempt fate. OSHA investigators learned that earlier on the day of the man’s death, the trench in which he was working collapsed partially and he managed to get out in time, but he had to go back into the unsecured trench.

There is no justification for the manner in which this employer allowed a safety violation to be repeated so many times, and the family of this worker will have to adjust to life without their loved one. While it is true that money will never replace him, the financial assistance offered by the Ohio workers’ compensation insurance system might ease the burden. They may file death benefits for coverage of end-of-life expenses and lost income, and they are free to utilize the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to navigate the claim for them.

Source:, “Trench Collapse Fatalities Have More Than Doubled This Year“, Nov. 17, 2016