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Workers' compensation: Trench collapse claims life of 1 worker

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has opened an investigation into the recent death of a construction worker in Orange County. This incident involved a collapsed trench, which is one type of construction accident that leads to thousands of workers' compensation claims for benefits every year. The tragedy is that many workers lose their lives in these incidents that are entirely preventable.

Cal/OSHA prescribes strict safety regulations for trenches, one of which is never to allow heavy equipment to operate near excavations. A spokesperson for Orange County Fire Authority said backhoes were used for digging in the vicinity when the trench walls collapsed. There was no mention of the presence of a trench box or other measures to prevent a cave-in.

Reportedly, a worker was buried under masses of soil on a recent Wednesday, around 3:00 in the afternoon. OCFA firefighters started the rescue process by using mechanical equipment to establish trench stability, after which rescuers began digging away the soil with their hands. The body of the deceased workers was recovered after 9 p.m. Compliance inspectors of Cal/OSHA will examine the construction company's compliance with safety regulations.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the surviving family members of the deceased worker will likely be entitled to death benefits through the California workers' compensation insurance system. The claims process can be complicated, but an experienced attorney can assist. The program typically provides compensation to cover the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements along with a wage replacement package to help with living expenses.

Source: ocregister.com, "Worker's body found after trench collapse at construction site in Lake Forest", Jonathan Winslow, May 9, 2018

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