Just in the last few years OSHA (like 'em or hate 'em) has beefed up all trenching standards and issued millions of dollars in fines for violations. I can think of few worse ways to die than to be crushed so hard you can't expand your lungs to inhale then suffocate, maybe even with people just a few feet away.
A slow suffocation might be even worse. Trapped miner's last letter from the 1902 Fraterville mine disaster.
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