Dying at work: How Arizona fails to protect workers on the job

Under former Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona workplace safety inspections dwindled and fines to companies decreased, all while injuries and deaths rose.

Anne Ryman and Justin Price

Arizona Republic

Alex Quaresma and Rudy Mori were friends and co-workers. Alex had just gotten engaged and Rudy had only been working for the trench-digging company for four months. 

They left home on a hot July morning. 

They were on the last stage of a job, digging to find a sewer line in a 10-foot trench. It was supposed to have safety measures in place but it didn’t. The trench collapsed and filled with dirt. Co-workers called for help and rushed to save them.

Alex and Rudy were buried alive.

The state agency that investigates workplace injuries and fatalities found Construction Specification Solutions, the company they worked for, had broken safety laws. The company − also known as Turnco − was fined a mere $8,000. 

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“It’s a slap on the wrist,” said Deanna Mori, Rudy’s younger sister. 

Arizona’s worker-safety program is supposed to protect the welfare of 3 million employees. 

But during departed Gov. Doug Ducey’s eight years in office, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health – known as ADOSH for short – has been more concerned with the growth and profitability of Arizona’s companies than holding them accountable for safety violations.

The number of unannounced inspections and financial penalties plummeted. 


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July 2023