January 13, 2016 Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH 0Comment

Justin “J.D.” Jorgensen, 30 suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Wednesday, January 6 while working at an excavation project in Altoona, IA. His employer was JRS Excavating. WHOTV reports:

  • the project was in a residential area where workers were “digging water and sewer lines.”
  • the incident occurred about 8 am local time.
  • an Altoona police spokesperson said that Mr. Jorgensen was working inside a trench that was “10 to 12 feet deep” and the “dirt caved in.”
  • “family friends say he worked with his brother.”

Using OSHA’s on-line database, it does not appear that Iowa OSHA has conducted any inspections involving JPS Excavating, at least since 1999.

Each year, dozens of workers in Iowa are fatally injured on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 90 work-related fatal injuries in Iowa during 2014 (preliminary data, most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,679 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2014.

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

  • Iowa-OSHA has 19 inspectors to cover more than 80,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious violation in Iowa is $901.
  • The median penalty amount for a work-related fatality occurring in Iowa is $3,250.

Iowa-OSHA has until early July 2016 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole Justin “J.D.” Jorgensen’s life. It’s likely they’ll determine that his death was preventable. It was no “accident.”


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