At a residential construction site in Northwest Austin on the morning of September 27, a construction worker believed to be in his 20s fell more than 20 feet and died from the injuries he received. Crews from Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service arrived at the site, which is located near Lake Travis, soon after receiving a report of a man in distress at 11:12 a.m. As soon as they arrived, they realized the worker’s injuries were fatal, and he was pronounced dead just a few minutes later.
According to witnesses, the worker had been working on an elevated platform with a crew that was framing a new home. He apparently he reached for something and fell. One witness said the worker “just slipped.” The Travis County Sheriff’s Office say a preliminary investigation showed the death to be accidental. It was not immediately determined who the deceased victim worked for. The site was immediately shut down after the incident.
Besides finding out the worker’s employer, a number of key details will have to be discovered by a thorough investigation, by both state and federal occupational safety agencies, led by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), where they will interview witnesses, perform measurements, audit safety equipment and collect evidence.
This investigation will answer a lot of questions, not the least of which concerns whether or not this worker was working at a height of 20 feet without fall protection equipment, such as a harness, and if not, why not? If he was wearing fall protection, was he properly trained to use it by his employer, whoever that is? Was he wearing shoes designed to reduce the likelihood of slipping?
Expect OSHA to be especially diligent in this investigation, because they are in the midst of a campaign to reduce the instances of falls, especially in the construction industry. As the agency points out, even though fall deaths are preventable, in 2010, of the 774 total fatalities in the construction industry, 264 came as a result of falls. The agency is cracking down on employers who allow their workers to work at such heights without adequate fall protection.
If you or a family member was injured or killed in a fall at a construction site, contact the Texas Construction Accident Injury Attorneys at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible for a free consultation, in order to protect your rights.