Production incentives for managers may be increasing the risk of workplace accidents for Minnesota employees. Construction is widely understood to be one of the most dangerous industries, and those involved in excavation and trenching take on even more risk. The fatality trend has gone up and led to jail time for at least one supervisor. An official at a risk management firm pointed to three reasons for the increased risk.

From 2015 to 2016, the number of fatal workplace injuries for employees involved in trenching more than doubled to over 20. In one incident, two workers died during a collapse. OSHA hit the contractor with nearly $1.5 million in fines for 18 violations, and the state filed criminal charges. Prosecutors may have been following the lead of criminal convictions handed down in 2015 against a contractor, sub-contractor, foreman and supervisor in a different trenching fatality.

A risk management company president stated that management bonuses tied to scheduled completion was a major factor in the increase in fatalities. He also cited inadequate training and general company disregard for safety as causes of workers’ injuries.

OSHA standards provide the basic needs for a safe workplace, and they even go so far as protecting workers who stop production due to a safety risk. A problem with this is that workers who have not received adequate training may not perceive such risks in time. The outcome of poor management can result in a worker suffering severe on-the-job injury or a family left grieving without an income. An attorney may be able to help families gather the evidence and documentation needed to pursue workers’ compensation benefits that can be useful in this regard.