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Employee death costs Ohio excavator $200k in OSHA fines

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Construction is a demanding and exhausting industry to work in. The blue-collar men and women who build houses, repair roads and are sometimes literally in the trenches are the ones we have to thank for our nation’s ability to keep humming along.

Jobsites are busy places filled with heavy machinery, power tools and other potentially dangerous elements. For things to run smoothly, safety must be a top priority. Despite this, employees’ wellbeing is sometimes left by the wayside. That was the situation recently in Ohio when JK Excavating & Utilities Inc.’s negligence led to the death of an employee.

Accident and OSHA investigation

JK Excavating & Utilities was running construction on a residential jobsite in Morrow, Ohio when disaster struck. An unsecured excavation trench suddenly caved in, trapping an employee beneath. The other workers were not able to dig the employee out from under the massive weight of the dirt, sand, rocks and other debris in time to save them.

OSHA was notified and conducted a thorough investigation of the company’s safety practices. Their findings were telling of the site’s conditions; JK Excavating & Utilities Inc. was ultimately cited for:

  • Not using protective systems to prevent cave-ins in trenches up to 16-feet deep
  • Not implementing methods to remove accumulated water
  • Not properly using ladders to enter and exit trenches
  • Not stopping employees from working beneath suspended trench boxes
  • Not ensuring employees used hard hats
  • Not being prepared to get medical attention to injured employees

As a result of the investigation, the company was fined $202,201 by OSHA, who also put them in their Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Stay safe on the job site

One thing that OSHA was not able to quantify in their investigation is the number of employees who may have suffered accidents before this cave-in. Lax and negligent safety protocols invariably lead to injuries. If you see unsafe practices while working, make sure to notify your supervisor. Employees have the right to a safe work environment, don’t wave that right for fear of speaking out.

If you are injured on the job, especially if it was due to company negligence, be sure to notify management immediately. Not only will it hopefully set better safety practices in motion, it will also give you the opportunity to file for workers’ compensation.

Workers’ comp can cover your medical bills, wages you lose while recovering, emotional trauma from the accident and other costs. A skilled attorney can help you get the process started and make sure it keeps moving once filed.

Construction can be a dangerous vocation, but it doesn’t need to be. There are series of practices that have been put in place to make sure workers are safe while on the job. If you see unsafe conditions, speak up and make things right.