Colorado courts sentenced Bryan Johnson, a contractor from Avon, CO, to 10 months in prison. He faced manslaughter and negligent homicide charges after a workplace accident left a man dead in 2018. Johnson didn’t go to trial; he pled guilty to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of 3rd-degree assault causing injury.
The accident in question occurred while repairing a water service line at a residential construction site on June 14, 2018. A trench collapsed, killing 50-year-old Rosario Martinez. According to the OSHA report, Martinez, not trained in trenching and excavation, had been hired to do drywall and carpentry work. The other employees also lacked relevant training.
“The evidence collected during OSHA’s investigation…reflects particularly egregious behavior,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter. “Trenching is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry, and Bryan Johnson failed to take any affirmative steps to protect employees, despite repeated warnings that work activities at the job site were hazardous.”
The OSHA report found that Johnson’s company, ContractOne, Inc., had not used a trench protective system, did not place excavated soil at a safe distance from the trenches, failed to provide ladders for egress, failed to conduct regular site inspections, and did not use appropriate utility location procedures.
“Safety and health are paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater. “The department believes the facts of this case warrant the sentence, and we support the District Attorney’s efforts to hold Johnson accountable for failing to protect workers under his care and supervision. Incarceration sends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”
In addition to the prison time, Johnson will pay $25,000 in fines, have three years’ probation, make contributions to local charities, undergo safety training, and be required to have OSHA personnel onsite during future projects.