This morning, a man died after falling into a 20-foot-deep trench in Westwood. The Los Angeles Fire Department said that the victim likely died during the fall and may have suffered electric shock, though the actual cause of death will be determined by the Coroner's Office. The victim may have been a worker for a private plumbing company.
Falls like this one are more common than many people think. Falls are the number one cause of construction death, and falls into openings, including holes in the ground, are one of the main types of construction fall. In 2011, 259 U.S. construction workers died from falls. Trench accidents are also common -- on average, 54 workers are killed in trench accidents. As are electrical shock and electrocutions. In 2011, there were 69 electrocutions, accounting for nine percent of all construction fatalities.
Most construction falls, trench accidents and electrocutions are fully preventable and the result of negligence. In many cases, the construction company or their workers cut safety corners in order to finish the work more quickly or save money. When a construction company puts profits above safety, it must be held accountable.
It is too early to know who or what is responsible for the Westwood trench accident. The trench was 20 feet deep, 2 feet wide and 8 feet long, but it is unclear whether the trench was protected or what may have caused the worker's electrical shock. Depending on the results of the investigation, there may be a number of parties accountable for the man's wrongful death, including his plumbing company.
Source: CBS Los Angeles, "West LA Worker Dies After Apparent Trench Accident," July 12, 2013