Authorities have identified 51-year-old construction worker Fernando Martinez as the victim of an accident, which occurred last Monday around 12:30 p.m. when a concrete-block wall at the edge of a nearby residential yard fell onto him, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office. Martinez had been taking a lunch break at the site, located at Wagner Road and North Marshall Avenue in El Cajon.
Although approximately 35% of on-the-job injuries are caused by machine accidents each year, as well as 14% of work-related deaths. But this unfortunate fatality involved a structural collapse at an East County job site.
Martinez, a resident of Escondido, died at the scene of the accident. Emergency crews spent over an hour cutting through the 6-by-20 foot wall to reach his body, according to Heartland Fire and Rescue spokesperson Sonny Saghera. A co-worker of the victim also suffered minor injuries in the crash.
There are 7. 8 million production workers in the United States construction industry, and in 2015 alone, 4,836 workers were killed on the job, equaling about 13 deaths every day. That’s why it has become the standard procedure to call in the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or OSHA, in the event of serious workplace accidents and fatalities such as this one.
“That homeowner should have records of the construction of the wall unless it was there when they bought the home,” said Personal Injury Attorney Craig McClellan.
For the past 35 years, McClellan has been investigating workplace injury and death cases. He said that every aspect of the homeowner and construction company will be looked at, including documents and procedures.
“Eventually, you can track down the construction of the wall, see if permits were pulled to build it, see if it was inspected and approved,” said McClellan.
McClellan further explained that these types of accidents are unfortunate, but occur because of negligence. He said that it may take time, but investigators will eventually uncover the truth.
The United States has the second largest construction market in the world, with expenditures exceeding $900 billion, and McClellan suspects that more than one construction company may be liable for this accident.
“We may be looking at the negligence of more than one construction company,” he said. “So it’s important to find out if the general contractor was supervising subcontractors and what subcontractors were doing in respect to this trench and ensuring it wasn’t undermining the wall.”
OSHA and the San Diego District Attorney’s office will continue their investigation, although they say it could take two to three months to complete. But McClelland is holding out hope.
“Ultimately, responsibility will be determined and I expect that the people responsible will be held to account for this unfortunate death,” said McClellan.