Municipal accidents are often followed by blame and time spent by many people investigating. That’s in full-force here as this accident consumes three months of the state’s time and money figuring out that the city was negligent in two ways: hazardous work conditions and failure to provide adequate protective systems for its employees. Post-accident investigations are important and opportunities to learn, but if the focus is to assign blame (e.g. crime and punishment), they are a waste of time and money.  Fining a municipality will unlikely alter future behaviors.   Instead, investigations should be focused on root-cause analysis, leading to a better understanding of how to prevent a reoccurrence.

Here’s a novel idea.  Replace the fine with a requirement that all employees undergo appropriate outcome-based education on the hazards that led to this accident.  Then, require the city to implement work-standards / safety processes to mitigating risk.  Finally, require on-the-job, skills-based training and certification to ensure the employees know HOW to do the work safely.

At PSS, we are committed to making your community a safer place.  We can help you reduce risk and avoid accidents like this one.

Baker, Wayne (2018, June 26). State cites Oakwood for trench collapse that hurt 2 worker.