Worker Killed During Construction of New Smithsonian Museum

Each year, millions of tourists from all over the world come to Washington, DC for a family vacation. One of the best things about Washington, DC is that, while it may be expensive to stay there, there are many family-friendly activities that are completely free. The best examples of this are the various museums administered by the Smithsonian Institute. Many of these Smithsonian museums are located around the National Mall. The most popular museums, based upon annual visitors, are the Air and Space Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

building-1086498-m.jpgHowever, these are just two of the many museums that are housed in buildings that are each true works of art. Many of these buildings have been constructed and renovated over the years, and new museums are under construction or in planning stages. The museum scheduled to open next is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is being constructed near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. While the museum will be a wonderful place to visit once complete, for the workers helping to build it, it is like any other construction job, and that means it can be a dangerous place to work.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, a worker was recently killed when scaffolding collapsed during construction of the new museum. The 50-year-old construction worker was on scaffolding above the roof of the museum during its construction when he became trapped in some of the scaffolding on which he was working. While he was trapped in the scaffolding, it collapsed, and he fell to the roof surface. Witnesses immediately called 911, and first responders quickly arrived on the scene. When emergency personnel made it to the roof of the building, they assessed the nature and extent of worker’s injuries. They quickly removed him from the roof and began to initiate CPR.

After performing CPR, paramedics transferred patient to the ground using a construction crane and transported him to a local DC area hospital. However, his work-related injures were too severe for doctors to save his life, and he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving. Authorities have said a full investigation will be conducted into the cause of the accident, but construction will continue. The museum is scheduled to open sometime next year.

As our Anderson workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, one of the issues that often comes up when a construction worker is injured on the job is whether he or she is an employee or independent contractor. An independent contractor is not the same as an employee.

If worker is an independent contractor, he or she has no right to benefits under the workers’ compensation system in many cases. The test is whether the worker will be out of work, or whether he or she will just be without the one contractor-based position.

Courts will also use what is known as the control test. They will look out how much control employer had over worker’s performance in terms of day-to-day tasks. If the employer simply tells a contractor to handle the masonry work as the contractor sees fit, this might mean worker is not an employee. On the other hand, if employer provides equipment for workers and closely supervises workers on most or all performance, the workers might be employees under the state workers’ compensation act.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Worker killed in scaffolding collapse at Smithsonian’s African American museum, June 3, 2015, Washington Post

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Atiapo v. Goree Logistics – Penalty for Uninsured Trucking Contractor Affirmed, March 24, 2015, Anderson Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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