The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety regulations for all industries nationwide, including those across California. Workplace accidents among employees of excavation companies are prevalent, and the number of deaths caused by unsecured trenches is alarming. Such a fatality in another state is currently under investigation by OSHA to determine whether safety violations were the cause.
Reportedly, the 27-year-old worker was an employee of a small excavating company that was busy with the installation of a sewage line at a private residence. The man was working in an 11-foot-deep trench that was 70-feet long and 3-feet wide. Reportedly, the trench was partly shored to provide protection for the workers.
According to an incident report, this worker was in the unprotected area of the trench when the walls collapsed. Firefighters rushed to the scene and attempted a rescue. Sadly, after working for more than an hour, their rescue efforts changed to a recovery process. The reason for the worker's presence in the hazardous area of the trench is not known.
Regardless of the findings of OSHA investigators after workplace accidents, the surviving family members of a deceased worker will have to cope with both the emotional and financial consequences of such an unanticipated tragedy. Financial assistance is available through the death benefits that may be pursued. Claims for such benefits may be filed with the California workers' compensation insurance system that typically covers end-of-life costs, along with a portion of wages to assist dependents with living expenses for a particular period after the loved one's death.
Source: oregonlive.com, "Worker, 27, dead after SW Portland trench collapse", Beth Nakamura, May 5, 2016