Trenches are known to pose multiple life-threatening risks to workers nationwide, including here in California. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety regulations and guidelines related to trenches, these rules are sometimes disregarded in favor of speed and profits. A recent trench collapse in another state caused fatal workplace injuries to two workers.
An incident report indicates that, after a recent maintenance project on a sewer line, a section of the repaired line collapsed in the early morning hours of a recent Tuesday. The city's utilities department contracted a construction company to excavate the area and replace the section of the sewer line. Workers reportedly started digging without securing the walls or using trench boxes.
When the depth of the trench reached about 11 feet, the walls apparently collapsed, trapping three workers inside. Emergency workers managed to save one of the three men from the trench. Sadly, two employees, ages 66 and 44, lost their lives. As in many fatal trench collapses, the deaths of these men could have been avoided had the time been taken to secure the trench walls.
Workers in California and across the country are covered by workers' compensation insurance. Families who lose loved ones to fatal workplace injuries may pursue financial relief by filing death benefits claims with the insurance program. Along with compensation for end-of-life expenses, dependents may also be awarded a financial package to assist with living expenses and financial obligations for a designated period after the loved one's death. This is to replace lost wages and is typically based on the most recent salary of the deceased worker.
Source: hdnews.net, "Officials investigating cause of deadly trench collapse", Nick Schwien, Patrick Lowry, March 3, 2016