Fatal Trench Collapse Leads to Prison Sentence
A Colorado state court has sentenced a construction company owner to prison and ordered restitution for the family of a 50-year-old company worker died following a preventable trench collapse in June 2018.
The Grand County Court of the State of Colorado sentenced Bryan Johnson, owner of ContractOne Inc., to 10 months in prison on two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third degree assault related to the death of Rosario Martinez on June 14, 2018.
Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges. In its sentencing, the court also ordered Johnson:
- Serve three years’ probation
- Pay Martinez’ family restitution not exceeding $25,000
- Make charitable contributions to local charities
- Participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony
- Complete safety training
- Not commit any willful or serious future OSHA violations
- Allow OSHA to inspect his worksites without an administrative warrant
Lack of Training
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Johnson hired Martinez to install drywall and do carpentry work but failed to train him or his other workers to identify or avoid hazards related to trenching and excavation.
At the time of the collapse, Martinez was installing a water service line at a Granby, Colorado residential construction site. The trench collapsed the day before but Johnson ignored obvious signs to change his procedures.
Martinez’ son was on site, and assisted first responders in digging his father out of the trench. Martinez later succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
OSHA investigators found ContractOne Inc. willfully failed to use a trench protective system as required.
The company also failed to conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions; did not place excavated soil piles a safe distance from trench edges; failed to provide ladders for egress; and did not use appropriate utility location procedures during trenching operations.
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