Hearts are heavy in New Jersey as we mourn the loss of two landscapers who died during a routine trench-digging project in a Morris County neighborhood earlier this month.
Their tragedy, an unimaginable accident that seems to have come out of nowhere, captured the rapt attention of New Jerseyans who were hopeful for a positive outcome despite the long odds. Now, people are asking how it happened — and who can be held responsible for these kinds of work-related deaths in New Jersey.
How a Morris County Neighborhood Draining Pipe Claimed Two Lives
Four employees of a local landscaping company were digging a trench for a new home in a private neighborhood in Morris County when things suddenly went very wrong. The trench began to cave, and one of the workers quickly became trapped in the collapse. Another bravely jumped in to try to save the man, but both found themselves buried by an astounding ten feet of dirt.
One of the other workers was injured and survived, while the fourth escaped without harm.
A rescue effort went on for hours before officials ultimately determined that both men were dead. An investigation is underway to determine how such a routine procedure — even one involving a considerably deep ditch — could have been so dangerous. OSHA, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, and local police are waging an investigation.
Work-Related Deaths in New Jersey Are Often Preventable
While the results of the investigation are still pending, an OSHA representative said that cave-in deaths like these are “completely preventable.” That might be the most difficult part of this case.
The landscapers’ tragedy reminds us why it is so important that employers who ask their employees to perform potentially dangerous tasks take every reasonable precaution to protect them. At The Law Offices of James C. DeZao, P.A., we care about the safety of all our states’ employees. If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, call our office at (973) 358-6134 to talk about your options, which may include compensation outside of the Workers’ Compensation system.