July 9, 2015 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Gerald Lyle Thompson, 51, suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 while working in Lakeville, Minnesota for DSM Excavating.

KSTP reports:

His employer, DSM Excavating was hired by Ryland Homes for the excavation project. The trench in which Thompson was working caved in on him.

The Star-Tribune reports:

  • Thompson and his brother were “installing drain tile on the perimeter of a lot…when the trench collapsed …”
  • The trench was 6 to 8 feet deep and Thompson was trapped at the bottom of it when the soil collapsed onto him.
  • The Dakota County Special Operations team recovered his body three hours later.

Twincities.com adds:

Thompson’s brother, Dennis Thompson, and other fellow construction workers attempted to free him, but the trench kept collapsing.

Thompson’s obituary in the Star-Tribune notes:

“He served his country in the United States Army and Air Force during multiple Tours of Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

DSM Excavating was previously cited for trenching violations by MN-OSHA. Following a July 2006 inspection, DSM received citations for two serious violations and paid a $770 penalty.

Each year, more than 50 workers in Minnesota are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 69 work-related fatal injuries in Minnesota 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:

  • Minnesota-OSHA has 44 inspectors to cover more than 145,700 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious violation in Minnesota is $ 752. The  average penalty for citations related to a work-related fatality occurring in Minnesota is $20,184.

MN-OSHA has until the end of December 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Gerald Thompson’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that his death was preventable. It was no “accident.”

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