Friday, September 24, 2004

Worker Killed In Trench Collapse: "Nobody's Business"

"It's nobody's business," according to Butch Menne, owner of B & J Septic and Excavation of Silex, MO, responding to a reporter's question about whether a trench that killed Chris Schmidt was properly shored.

I disagree. A worker killed in an unprotected trench is everyone's business. As long as employers are allowed to get away with killing workers by violating a clear law requring trenches over five feet deep to be shored, no one is really safe, any more than if any other criminal is allowed to get away with a crime with an insignificant penalty.
Schmid's mother, Betty, remembered her son as an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish and who had many friends.

"He had just turned 32, and he loved life," said Betty Schmid. "He had so many plans that he wanted to do, and he was just a great son. He helped take care of me; I'm on disability."

Schmid said her son was close to his two nieces and two nephews, whom he often took camping. She said she has a lot of questions about how the accident could have happened.

"I don't understand it, something is wrong," she said. "Why was he down there by himself? And why wasn't it shored up?"
According to a fire department official, the trench was not properly shored.
Deputy Chief Randy Sanders of the O'Fallon Fire Protection District said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration "would not be pleased with what they see at the site. The company did not follow the standards or the rules."