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Construction injuries: City worker dies while marking waterlines

Whenever construction companies in Colorado and other states plan projects that include excavation, they must call the local utility companies to indicate and mark underground electricity, gas or water lines. This is to avoid unexpected construction injuries when utility lines are accidentally damaged. For reasons yet to be determined, a construction company in a neighboring state recently had a city worker mark water lines after excavation was already underway, leading to the death of the worker.

According to a police report, the 58-year-old worker -- who had been a city employee for 20 years -- was in the trench to indicate the waterlines. While he was in the trench, a rotating backhoe struck the man. The heavy machine trapped him against the side of the trench. Reportedly, emergency workers responded to the scene promptly, but the man did not survive.

Following a fatal workplace accident, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically launches an investigation to determine the cause of the death. The investigators will also focus on the construction company's compliance with safety regulations. If they identify any safety violations, the company may be penalized.

Sadly, no proposed penalties will change the fact that a family has lost a loved one. For Colorado families who have suffered such tragic losses after fatal construction injuries, the financial burden brought about by the high costs of end-of-life arrangements can be recovered through the workers' compensation insurance program. Death benefits typically cover those losses and lost income is typically awarded to surviving dependents. A wage-replacement package might help with daily living expenses in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Source: ksl.com, "Hurricane city worker killed in construction accident identified", Ben Lockhart, Jan. 4, 2017

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