Excavation work of any kind is a dangerous undertaking, especially when hazardous conditions exist. For this reason, OSHA mandates that workers are protected by proper support structures and safety equipment in case of a deadly trench collapse. If a Missouri employee suffers a serious injury due to an employer’s negligence, he or she may have a case for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Recently, one company has come under scrutiny after having lost two employees in the span of six months who died under similar circumstances. The first death occurred in May of 2017, when a 60-year-old worker was apparently helping to direct his employer in using a clam-shell bucket attached to a truck-mounted crane. The workers were engaged in digging a cesspool for a property owner. At some point during the excavation, the ground under the worker opened up and the man was pulled down several feet under the debris. Another worker was able to avoid a similar death by grabbing the bucket and rising to safety.
The second incident occurred in November of 2017. This time, the worker was standing outside the hole that was being dug. Unfortunately, possibly due to the fact that the hole had been previously back-filled two days prior, the ground was unstable. Shortly after the work commenced, the employee got sucked into the hole when the ground under him gave way. Both victims were recovered after several hours of digging.
Investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration resulted in fines for serious violations for lack of safety protocols, which led to the deadly trench collapse in each incident. Though there is a pending lawsuit and frustration on the part of one victim’s family, the company is still in operation. Missouri residents who have suffered an injury due to improper safety measures — or lost a loved one — may seek professional help in filing a claim for benefits from the state’s workers’ compensation insurance program.