Washington Contractor Fined $400K for Safety Violations in Fatal Trench Collapse

A Kent, Washington contractor is facing more than $400,000 in fines for safety violations that led to the death of a construction worker last year in Renton.

Surjit Gill, 36, was killed when the dirt walls of the trench he was working in collapsed and buried him.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries cited AAA Contractors Inc. for three willful and one serious violation in connection with the incident. The company was also cited for several general violations. The fines total $437,581.00.

Source: Washington Department of Labor & Industries

L&I inspectors determined Gill had been working in a trench 18- to 20-feet deep at a new housing development. No one had reportedly inspected the trench for safety before the worker entered, and the shields installed were inadequate for the soil type and depth. Employees inside the trench also did not have a safe way of getting out, according to L&I.

Excavation incidents killed 35 workers across the U.S. in 2022 — more than double the 15 workers killed in 2021. In Washington, in addition to Gill, two men were killed in a trench collapse at a backyard construction site in Shoreline July, 2022, according to L&I.

Along with the willful and serious violations, AAA was also cited for several general violations including not having a first-aid certified person on site, the supervisor or person in charge was not first aid certified, and there were no documented walk around safety inspections.

AAA Contractors has been identified as a severe violator and is now subject to greater scrutiny. The company has filed an appeal.

Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.


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