Eight companies were fined more than $125,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for safety violations during the third quarter of 2020, and in three cases workers were killed on the job. Here’s a look at the three cases that involved a worker fatality:
RES America Construction and RES System 3 LLC, with an office in Broomfield, Colorado, was fined $545,674 after a worker at the Skookumchuck Wind Farm construction site in Rainier, Washington, was caught in a 15-foot-trench when it collapsed. Two other workers jumped into the trench to save the man but one of the workers was killed after the trench collapsed a second time. The first worker survived but suffered serious injuries. RES America, the general contractor, was hit with $184,800 in proposed fines by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for six violations. RES System 3, the subcontractor, was hit with eight violations and a proposed $360,874 in fines for offenses that included failing to use adequate trench protection.
Land Construction Corp., based in Latto, Indiana, was working at a site in Fort Wayne when a trench collapsed onto a worker, burying him 24 feet deep. The worker died from asphyxia due to chest compression from the rubble. Land Construction was hit with one willful and 10 serious violations for a total fine of $191,398. Violations included not providing adequate means of egress from the trench, allowing employees to be exposed to an unsecured trench shield system, and failing to provide adequate cave-in protection.
Contractor Freddy Acevedo in Dundee, Florida, was hit with $165,788 in fines when a building his team was working on in Davenport, Florida, collapsed and killed one of his employees. The employee had been installing roof trusses along a wall when the trusses and wall collapsed. The employee was killed during the fall and from being struck by falling building materials. The contractor was hit with one willful and six serious violations including failing to provide head protection and failing to protect workers from falling by providing guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction jobs. Trench collapses on excavation and construction job sites kill two dozen or more workers each year in the U.S. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car – about 3,000 pounds – and dirt walls of a trench can collapse suddenly without any warning, burying the victims instantly. Falls, struck-by, and caught-in/between accidents are among OSHA’s so-called “Fatal Four” construction accidents responsible for more than half of the construction worker deaths in 2018.
Workplace injury lawyers
Beasley Allen handles a variety of cases related to workplace safety, including situations similar to this. While all workers should be guaranteed a safe working environment, all too often we handle cases of serious injuries and deaths resulting from a hazardous work environment. Many times our investigation reveals defective or dangerous machinery was involved, or employers failed to provide adequate protections or ignored safety regulations. If you need more information, contact Kendall Dunson or Evan Allen, lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section who handle workplace litigation for our firm.