A man died May 4 at a new home construction site in Franklin Township, New Jersey, when the walls of an 8-foot-deep trench caved in, burying the man, according to police and press reports. The Courier News has a report (see: "Plainfield man dies in Franklin trench collapse," by Suzanne Russell). "Police said Selvin Antulio Lopez-Castillo died in the collapse," the paper reports. "When police arrived, they found several workers trying to dig out Lopez-Castillo. Police said the workers tried to rescue him for several minutes before calling 911. Because of the instability of the trench and fearing another collapse, workers were ordered out of the trench. A house was under construction on the property. Workers were digging the trench for utilities. Police said the trench was about 3 feet wide and 8 feet deep."
"He was in the ground working outside the foundation of the home and the dirt fell on top of him," East Franklin Fire Chief Dan Krushinski told NJ Advance Media (see: "Construction worker dies after being buried in 8-foot deep trench," by Dave Hutchinson) . "He was completely covered up in dirt. There were five workers on the scene but we don't know how long he was buried under the dirt before the other workers saw him. We had to take our time to build the shoring to extricate him. The rescue team had to build a wall around him to begin the rescue. They wanted to remove him safely."
The accident represents the third excavation death in New Jersey since 2014, NJ Advance Media reports (see: "Deadly trench collapses are rare, but N.J. sees 3 fatalities in 7 months," by Dave Hutchinson). "In October, 2014, Oscar Portillo died while excavating a 10-foot trench for a drainage pipe at a home on the 400 block of Rockaway Valley Road in Boonton Township," the report says. "Co-worker Selvin Zelaya died when he jumped into the trench to try to save Portillo. Bednar Landscape Service was cited for one willful safety violation and nine serious safety violations by the OSHA but the company is contesting the citations, [federal OSHA spokesperson Lenore Uddyback-Fortson said."
In the 2014 deaths, OSHA has proposed a $77,000 fine for the two dead workers' employer, Bednar Landscape (see OSHA press release: "Lack of cave-in protections led to trench collapse, Bednar Landscape workers' deaths in Boonton").