Denver construction sites can be dangerous places to work. Employees operate machinery that moves and lifts objects weighing tons. Any miscalculation by an employee can cause objects to slip, slide or fall. At the same time, construction industry employers are expected to adhere vigilantly to local, state and federal safety regulations to prevent unsafe working conditions.
A construction site accident that injured an Aurora worker could have been much worse than it was. The hydraulic life operator suffered a face laceration and broken ankle, but the SEMA Construction Inc. employee easily could have died from a crush injury under the weight of 12,000 pounds of concrete.
Early investigative reports said something went wrong with two, three-ton concrete supports at the RTD light rail job site on Interstate 225. The victim’s employer believes brackets securing pads to hold the huge panels upright were ineffective. A SEMA official suggested the protective pads worked loose from the brackets while settling into the ground.
Transportation officials said the enormous panels fell onto a portable hydraulic lift and “knocked over” the operator. CDOT is investigating whether a drainage project in the vicinity could have undermined the panel support system. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors were also called to the site.
Another worker was pinned in a ditch by a fallen concrete slab in a similar accident at a 2012 SEMA construction site in Colorado. OSHA cited the company more than a dozen times since 2004 for serious safety infractions. Violations included inadequate fall prevention safeguards, lack of worker protective gear and other potentially hazardous on-the-job conditions.
The employee in first incident recovered from injuries. The latest victim was released after hospital treatment.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to most Colorado employees who become injured while at work. Additional legal claims may be necessary when negligence is attributed to a party indirectly responsible for an accident.
thedenverchannel.com, “2 decorative panels topple, injuring worker driving vehicle on I-225 light rail project in Aurora” Alan Gathright, Sep. 04, 2013