Business Q&A: Three steps to heed if human remains are discovered on company construction site

Miles Tolbert, director of Crowe & Dunlevy, addresses this eerie question with Halloween only a few days away.
by Paula Burkes Published: October 26, 2012
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Q&A with Miles Tolbert

3 steps to heed if human remains are found on construction site

Q: Here's an eerie question, with Halloween coming: What should employers do if what appears to be human remains are discovered on a construction site?

A: There are three key things to remember. You should stop working, because Oklahoma law requires that any person discovering what might be human remains to immediately cease any activity which could cause further disturbance to the remains. Next, you should take steps to ensure that neither your workers nor anyone else touch the area where the body or skeleton was found. It is a felony to allow any person, other than a law enforcement officer, mortician, medical examiner or archaeologist, to disturb human skeletal remains. You should consider placing barriers or tape around the area and securing the discovery spot at night. Finally, you must report what you find to law enforcement within 48 hours. Failing to make such a report is a felony.

Q: What are the applicable laws?

A: Although there are federal statutes that apply in certain cases, Oklahoma has crafted its own set of laws to address the discovery of human remains. Oklahoma Statutes Title 21 §1168.4 contains several provisions that govern what people can and cannot do when they uncover skeletal or other human remains.

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by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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