May 3, 2016 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Justin ‘J.D.’ Jorgensen’s work-related death could have been prevented. That’s how I see the findings of Iowa OSHA in the agency’s recent citations against his employer, JRS Excavating.

The 30 year-old was working with a crew in a residential area in Altoona, IA. They were digging water and sewer lines. Mr. Jorgensen was inside a 10 to 12 feet deep trench when it collapsed on him. I wrote about the incident shortly after it occurred in January 2016.

Inspectors with IA-OSHA conducted an inspection at the construction site following the fatal incident. The agency issued citations to JRS Excavating for three serious violations and proposed a $4,500 penalty. Among other violations, the company failed to ensure that Mr. Jorgensen was protected from a cave-in by an adequate protective system, and that a competent person inspect the excavation site to identify hazardous conditions.

When some local press initially reported Justin ‘J.D.’ Jorgensen’s death, they called it an accident. An “accident” suggests the circumstances were unforeseen or could not have been avoided. Iowa-OSHA’s findings tell a different story. Call it cutting corners, call it poor management, call it breaking the law. Whatever you want to call it, Jorgensen’s  work-related death could have been prevented, it was no accident.

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