Avon Construction Company Owner Sentenced to Jail by Colorado Court
A restitution is ordered for a family of a worker killed in a Granby Trench collapse.
- By Shereen Hashem
- Jul 20, 2021
The owner of Avon construction company is sentenced to jail by the Colorado state court and ordered restitution for the family of a 50-year-old company worker who suffered fatal injuries in a preventable trench collapse at a Granby work site in June 2018. The Grand County Court of the State of Colorado sentenced Bryan Johnson, owner of ContractOne Inc., to 10 months in jail for two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third-degree assault related to the death of Rosario Martinez on June 14, 2018. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges on June 16, 2021.
According to a press release, in its sentencing, the court also ordered Johnson to:
- Serve three years’ probation
- Pay Martinez’s family restitution-- not to exceed $25,000
- Make charitable contributions to local charities
- Participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony
- Complete safety training
- Not commit any willful or serious future OSHA violations
- Allow OSHA to inspect his worksites without an administrative warrant
OSHA determined that Johnson hired Martinez to install drywall and do carpentry work but failed to train him or his workers to identify or avoid hazards in regards to trenching and excavation. When he collapsed, Martinez installed a water service line at a residential construction site. The trench collapsed the day before but Johnson did not change his procedures. Martinez’s son was also on site and assisted first responders in digging his father out of the trench. According to the press
release, OSHA investigators found that ContractOne Inc. willfully failed to use a trench protective system as required. Regular site inspections weren’t conducted either to address hazards. For example, excavated soil piles were not placed at a safe distance from trench edges, the company failed to provide ladders for egress and did not use appropriate utility location procedures during trenching operations.
“The evidence collected during OSHA’s investigation, and later relied upon by the District Attorney’s Office to pursue criminal charges, reflects particularly egregious behavior,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Denver. “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 jobsite were hazardous.”
The press release says, in the past decade, the department’s Solicitor’s Office has increased the number of criminal referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice with state and local prosecutors to take legal action against employers under state criminal statutes.
“Safety and health is paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Denver. “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 ends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”