Olympia, WA – In a first for the state, a Seattle contractor has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of an employee who was killed when a sewer trench collapsed in 2016.
Alki Construction owner Phillip Numrich was charged Jan. 5 by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which alleges criminal negligence in the fatal collapse which killed 36-year-old Harold Felton.
Washington L&I fined the company more than $50,000 and cited it for multiple safety violations in 2016 after an investigation into the incident.
Numrich also faces a gross misdemeanor charge for violating a labor safety regulation with death resulting. His arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 18.
According to OSHA, numerous safety requirements must be followed in excavation and trenching, including ensuring that sites four-feet deep or more have protective systems in place to prevent the dirt sides from caving in.
Among other requirements, employers must also make sure there are ladders, ramps, or other ways available to safely exit an excavated trench. Daily inspections of excavations to monitor changing soil conditions must be carried out.
The Agency states that two workers are killed in trench collapses each month.