May 14, 2015 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Selvin Antulio Lopez-Castillo, 43, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Monday, May 4, 2015 while working at a residential construction site in Franklin Township, NJ. ABCNews reports:

  • The incident occurred around 4 pm at a site where a home was under construction.
  • Five other workers were nearby when the incident occurred.

NBCNY reports:

  • “The worker was about 8 feet down when the walls of the hole gave way. The other workers attempted to get him out but were unsuccessful.”
  • “Firefighters from Community, East Franklin, Somerset Fire and Rescue and New Brunswick Fire responded to the scene. They worked for almost two hours to get the man out of the 3.5-foot-wide trench.

The Franklin Township Police Department noted:

  • “Upon arrival officers found several workers attempting to dig the victim out. …Due to the instability and fearing another collapse, the workers were order out of the trench.”
  • “The house was under construction and the workers were digging the trench for utilities. Firefighters were able to extricate Lopez-Castillo from trench at 5:43 PM.”
  • The township’s construction office reported “the sites did have valid permits at the time of the incident.”

Mr. Lopez-Castillo worked for Adonai Construction LLC. OSHA’s on-line enforcement database does not show any previous inspections listed under this employer’s name.

Each year, about 100 workers in New Jersey are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 102 work-related fatal injuries in New Jersey during 2013 (most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,545 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2013.

The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • Federal OSHA has 59 inspectors in New Jersey to cover more than 228,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious OSHA violation in New Jersey is $2,176. The  median OSHA penalty for citations related to a fatality is $6,000.

Federal OSHA has until early November 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Mr. Lopez-Castillo’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that his death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

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