The decedent was later identified as a 20-year-old from North Carolina. He had been operating a boom lift at the time of the incident, since he was working on ongoing brick-cladding repair to the exterior of the high school.
Authorities revealed he worked for a construction subcontractor, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has launched its own investigation into the incident. The construction company released a statement expressing condolences and also insisting this was an “isolated incident.”
But of course, that doesn’t mean it was unavoidable. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) reports that aerial lifts are known hazards on construction sites.
These lifts are typically powered by mobile platforms used to elevate workers to various heights, which in turn expose workers to the risk of a fall hazard. We don’t know for sure if this most recent incident in Rock Hill was a result of a fall, but we do know that’s the most common type of injury with this equipment.
NIOSH notes that training is essential for anyone using an aerial lift (used as a blanket term for numerous types of lifts, including scissor lifts and boom lifts). It’s not clear how much training this 20-year-old worker would have had to operate this very heavy and extremely dangerous machinery.
Falls are the No. 1 cause of death for workers on construction sites annually, accounting for an estimated 200 deaths each year. In looking at occupational injury data between 2011 and 2014, there were 1,380 workers who suffered injuries as a result of using an aerial lift or scissor lift. More than 350 of these cases involved a worker who slipped, tripped, or fell from one level to another.
During that same time frame, nearly 90 workers died in construction accidents that involved aerial lifts. Well over half of those involved falls.
Similar statistics were provided via the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ELCOSH), which reported an estimated 26 workers die each year in aerial lift accidents. In addition to falls, electrocutions, collapses, and tipovers were major concerns and causes of work-related injuries. Electricians were the most at risk, accounting for 25 percent of all aerial lift fatalities. Construction laborers, painters, and carpenters were also at high risk.
Boom lifts in particular account for 70 percent of all aerial lift deaths.
Aerial lifts are especially dangerous when workers are using them in adverse weather conditions, in areas of high traffic, or where the environment is constantly changing. Construction sites often fit this description. Proper safeguarding is everything when a construction company or subcontractor is using an aerial lift.
Workers’ compensation death benefits could be paid in a case like this, entitling any dependent family members (i.e., spouse, minor children, dependent adult children) to up to 500 weeks of 66.6 percent of the worker’s average salary over the previous year.
Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Construction worker dies while working at Rock Hill high school, March 5, 2017, By Brandon Smith, Fox 46
More Blog Entries:
NC Appeals Court: Workers’ Comp. Insurer Has No Standing to File Third-Party Claim, March 29, 2017, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog