Despite the acknowledgement that the type of heavy building involved in constructing major sports arenas has associated risks, it was a horrific accident, everyone concluded. Months later, one eyewitness shared that he still had nightmares about what he had seen: two workers who had been up on the roof securing materials in place when something went terribly wrong. Both workers ended up tumbling more than 300 feet to ground below, where autopsies determined they died on impact. Investigators pored over the worksite to reconstruct exactly what led up to the tragic accident. However, several traumatized coworkers admitted it didn’t take experts to anticipate that construction management was at risk for liability associated with several lapses in protocol–warning signs that, in hindsight, should have been heeded immediately.
What the managers had ignored
Investigators would learn that several problems were present at the time of the accident:
- Supervisors were unaware of the exact location where the employees were working
- The two men were working without a supervisor even being in the vicinity
- The workers were not wearing the safety harnesses that are required by anyone working in certain elevated areas
- Nine worksite citations had already been issued for serious violations during six inspections in recent years, totaling thousands of dollars in fines
Most of those violations were for failure to use safety harnesses or guardrails to offer protection from falls, in some cases in elevations or hoist areas of 6 to 10 feet or more
A tragic day
The firm’s owner expressed his condolences to the victims’ families, calling the incident the “most tragic day of his life.” Regardless of their sincerity, the fact remains that the men are dead, their families are left without husbands and fathers, and the firm ended up going out of business.
This industry claims lives: incidents of workers killed in an elevator shaft accident, or when heavy building materials shifts and falls on a worker, or someone steps in a hole, or off a girder several stories up. With so much on the line, construction management will always be at risk to a certain extent. That being said it is essential to purchase a comprehensive package of insurance coverages to offer as much protection as possible for the employer and employees alike.