During the excavation process of your construction project, you may end up finding things you didn’t expect to see. These can span from old cellars and foundations, to junk and artifacts. In some cases, however, you may even discover bones.
Believe it or not, not all construction companies know how to respond when they are faced with the decision of proceeding with the project or delaying the construction process. To most, sticking to the schedule is important, as delays will cause severe losses for you and your clients. However, there are cases when delays are necessary. Finding human bones on your excavation site is one of those acceptable reasons for delay.
How You Should Proceed When You Find Human Bones in Your Excavation Site
As a responsible construction company, you need to know the specifics when dealing with human remains in construction and excavation sites. There are laws in place that necessitate further investigation in such cases. You can face legal ramifications when you proceed with your construction work even with the knowledge of the human remains’ existence.
If you find a bone during construction, here are the first things that you must do:
- Stop your construction work.
As soon as you can confirm that the bones you have found are human remains, you need to stop your construction work immediately. The human bones you have uncovered can be an important archeological find. They may belong to a victim of an unsolved violent crime. They could also belong to people who have died because of natural disasters and tragic events.
Further investigation is needed to determine the identity or the cause of death of the person. To make way for such investigations, you have to stop your construction work.
- Call the proper authorities.
After stopping the construction work, you need to immediately call the proper authorities. In most cases, the local law enforcement and the county coroner must be the first ones you reach out to.
In some states, you would need to contact the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology first. Find out who the right authority to call and make sure that the site remains undisturbed until they have arrived.
- Preserve the site unless given the green light by authorities.
Some construction companies fail to report to the authorities and just proceed with their project even when they encounter human remains in their excavation sites. When you knowingly do this, you are opening yourself up possible imprisonment and millions of fines.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act are just some of the laws that you will be breaking if you cover up the preservation regulations. To be on the safe side, just preserve the site unless given the go signal by the proper authorities.
Learn How to Properly Respond to Human Remain Findings in Excavation Sites
Construction companies need to know how to properly respond to human remain findings in order to protect themselves from legal action. The ones above are the most important steps that you must do once you encounter human remains in your excavation sites.
Just remember: stop your work, call the authorities, and preserve the site!
Written by Hubert Builders, a full service commercial construction company in Columbia, MO.