Rare manslaughter conviction handed down to construction project manager for safety lapse

Shane Hedmond, at Construction Junkie, recently shared the following:

Just last week, an Encino, California man was sentenced to 6 months in county jail and 18-months of supervised release after an excavation collapse killed one of his employees, according to the Ventura County Star.  The project manager, who was acting as an unlicensed contractor at the time, faced a prison term of up to 4 years. The man was officially charged with involuntary manslaughter and causing the death of an employee from violating a health or safety standard in July of this year.

On the one hand, stories involving serious injury and/or death from construction job site mishaps are seemingly increasing, not decreasing as one would expect from all the hype around safety in the industry. On the other hand, this story is unique in that in the many cases I’ve been involved in where a construction worker has been injured or killed on site, it is rare for there to be any real personal accountability.

Construction is still very dangerous work, despite decades of a “Safety First” mentality. I really appreciate Hedmond’s closing paragraph on the topic:

Bottom line is: if you’re a supervisor, you should never allow your employees to work in an unsafe excavation and if you’re an employee, you should never think you’re safe in an excavation that is not sloped, shored, or benched. 2016 saw a sharp spike in the amount of trench collapse deaths, more than doubling that of 2015, so there’s still plenty that needs to be done . There are plenty of tools and resources availablethat explain how to dig a safe excavation, as well.