A Sobering Reflection on the Dangers of Unsafe Construction

The San Jose Mercury News reports the manslaughter convictions of a construction company owner and project manager, who proceeded with unprotected excavation work in the face of a stop-work order from the local building inspector. According to the article, a construction worker was buried by “an unfortified 12-foot-tall dirt wall.” Prosecutors described the case as a “rare trial aimed at holding an employer criminally responsible for the death of an employee on the job.” One subcontractor reportedly walked off the site a few days prior to the accident, concerned for safety of its workers. Unfortunately for Raul Mercado, who had been working on the site for only a week, the contractor moved forward. It is tragic any time a construction worker does not return home at the end of the day. Many players in the construction industry have gotten the message. National Safety Week earlier this month, complete with a website dedicated to that purpose, is emblematic of that philosophy. But the actions of a minority of contractors will continue to paint an unflattering picture until the safety message permeates through all sectors and all ranks of the industry. Mr. Mercado and his family deserved better.