Worker Killed in 13-story Fall

21 Feb, 2023 Liz Carey

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A 21-year-old man is dead after falling 13 stories at a Sarasota, Fla., construction site.  

In a press release, Sarasota Police Department officials said the man was painting on the 18th floor of a construction site on Feb. 15, when he fell to the fifth floor. The cause of the fall is unknown, police said.  

The worker was rushed to the hospital, but later died of his injuries. Officers were sent to the site to investigate, but believe the man’s death is an accident. OSHA will be investigating the fall as well, officials said.  

It was the fourth construction death in the past six months.  

In Tampa, Fla., a construction worker was killed when he was crushed by lumber, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said.  

Just at 11 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2022, Sheriff’s deputies were called to the Port of Tampa Bay for a report of an accident. The sheriff’s office said a worker attempting to clear the way for a forklift to transfer two bundles of lumber that weighed around 3,000 lbs. apiece. Officials said when the forklift operator pressed the brakes, the two bundles of lumber moved and rolled off the forklift. While the first bundle clipped the worker, the second rolled over and crushed him, officers said.  

The construction worker was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. OSHA is investigating the incident, officials said.  

In October, a construction worker was sent to the hospital after falling about five feet at another construction site.  

Police said workers were on a new condominium. The employee hit concrete when he fell. He was rushed to the hospital for the treatment of unspecified injuries, officials said.  

And in September, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said a construction worker died when a concrete slab fell on him.  

The worker, who was working on a project at Port Tampa Bay, when the concrete slab weighing about 3,000 lbs. fell on him.  

Officials said a portion of the concrete slab broke off and fell while workers were moving it as they were working to replace a seawall. The slab fell on a 27-year-old man. The man was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

The Port of Tampa Bay released a statement at the time.  

"Port Tampa Bay is deeply saddened by the loss of life at berth 268 this morning. Our port will work with the construction company who employed the individual, and local agencies, as well as OSHA, to investigate,” the port said.  

OSHA is investigating all of the incidents. 

Construction site accidents continue to be some of the most fatal in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while construction workers account for only about 6 percent of the workforce, construction accidents account for about 20 percent of workplace fatalities. In 2020, 1,008 workers died in construction accidents, the third highest industry fatality rate. More than 30 percent of the fatalities were from falls, with falls, being struck by equipment, being caught in or in between equipment and electrocution being the top four causes of death. Those four causes account for over 60 percent of all of the construction-related deaths in the U.S.  

In 2021, that number had fallen to 986, a drop of 2.2 percent.  

"One life lost is tragic and one too many.” Joe Xavier, Associated Builders and Contractors senior director of health and safety, told Engineering News-Record. “Unfortunately, the number of fatalities and the rate are essentially unchanged over the last five years. The report shows there’s so much more to be done. We must look beyond traditional, observable safety behavior. Safety must be a core value.”  

This past week, OSHA levied a $437,581 fine against a contractor in Washington after a worker was killed in a trench collapse last year.  

Surjit Gill, 36, was working on Sept. 7 inside of a roughly 20-foot-feep trench in Renton, Wash., when it collapsed and buried him in soil. According to the Washington state Department of Labor & Industries, AAA Contractors Inc. of Kent, Wash., Gill’s employer, failed to install adequate shields to prevent the collapse. 

The trench box AAA Contractors used was four feet shorter than the top of the trench, the department said. Additionally, another trench box at the site could’ve been stacked on the top of the existing trench box to prevent the collapse, but was not used. 

“One cubic yard of soil can weigh more than a car,” said Craig Blackwood, a state occupational health and safety official, in a news release. “Dirt walls can collapse suddenly and without any warning. That’s why there are safety rules in place. The requirements are well known by employers in the industry, and effective when followed. Mr. Gill should still be alive today.” 

Gill was found buried beneath soil inside the trench, and first responders pronounced him dead at the scene.  

State labor officials said AAA Contractors violated other safety regulations, like not having first aid certified personnel on site.  

OSHA said the penalty money will go toward a state workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund meant to assist and the family members of workers who have died on the job. 


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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