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The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed criminal manslaughter charges Friday against the owner of a Seattle, Washington-based construction firm.
This is the first time a Washington employer has faced felony charges for a workplace fatality.
Phillip Numrich, owner of Alki Construction, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Harold Felton, who was killed when the dirt walls of the trench he was working in collapsed and buried him on a job site in West Seattle two years ago, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries said Monday in a statement.
In 2016, the state cited and fined the company for multiple workplace safety violations, including “willful” violations, which are the most severe, according to the statement.
“There are times when a monetary penalty isn't enough,” Joel Sacks, L&I’s Seattle, Washington-based director said in a statement. “This company knew what the safety risks and requirements were and ignored them. The felony charges show that employers can be held criminally accountable when the tragedy of a preventable workplace death or injury occurs.”
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday said it has cited Tallahassee, Florida-based R.A.W. Construction L.L.C. for exposing its employees to trench collapse hazards.