Construction worker killed in trench collapse during utility install in New Jersey

An officer at the scene of the collapse. Credit: Dave Hutchinson/NJ.comAn officer at the scene of the collapse. Credit: Dave Hutchinson/

While installing a drainage line around a home under construction in Franklin, New Jersey, a trench collapsed burying and killing one worker.

According to a report from, 43-year-old Selvin Antulio Lopez-Castillo was inside a 3-feet-wide by 8-feet-deep trench when it collapsed around 4 p.m. Monday. His co-workers attempted to pull him from the trench but called 911 after failing to do so.

Rescue workers and paramedics arrived to the scene about 15 minutes after the collapse and pulled Lopez-Castillo from the trench more than an hour later. About 30 minutes after he was removed from the trench, he was pronounced dead.

The site reports the crew, employed by Adonai Construction LLC of Plainfield, did have all the valid permits for working the site. However, a preliminary report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the trench collapsed due to “workers failing to meet proper trench safety requirements and a lack of shoring.”

A protective system is required for trenching whenever an excavation is great than 5 feet in depth. You can read shoring tips in our Safety Watch guide on the subject here.

You can research even more applicable safety guidelines in the Trenching section of our Safety Watch hub by clicking here.