Podcast | The workplace death that changed Washington precedent

Reporter Lizz Giordano talks about the legal handling of Harold Felton’s death – and why his family thinks more could have been done.

A framed portrait of Harold Felton rests in his mother's hands

Pam Felton holds a December 2015 photo of her son Harold Felton and his 3-month-old daughter Grace taken about a month before Harold Felton was killed in a trench collapse while working on a construction project in 2016. (M. Scott Brauer for Crosscut) 

In 2016, Harold Felton was working in a trench in West Seattle when it suddenly collapsed, killing him.    

Seattle police declared his death an accident and handed the case to Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), which enforces safety standards and investigates workplace fatalities.  

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King County prosecutors eventually charged Felton’s employer, Phillip Numrich, with felony manslaughter, setting a precedent for holding workplaces accountable.   

Crosscut investigative reporter Lizz Giordano spoke with host Maleeha Syed about this precedent and why – in spite of how Felton’s death was handled – his family ultimately believes L&I failed him.  

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