A construction worker died last week during construction of a new football stadium and pedestrian bridge for Baylor University in Texas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began their investigation to determine the cause of the fatal construction accident.

Two workers were working in a lift basket of a “cherry picker” and were welding with acetylene torches on beams for the pedestrian footbridge that is being constructed near the new football stadium at the time of the construction accident. The lift rolled or slid off the barge and the two workers were tossed into the cold water of the Brazos River.

The deceased worker’s body was found in about 16 feet of water still tether to the safety harness and wearing his flotation equipment. The cause of death was determined to be drowning, suggesting he was not killed on impact.

The other worker was able to escape the lift basket and was treated for hypothermia and released from the hospital.

Construction workers face numerous risks when on any job and bridge work, like the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge here in New York, is even more dangerous than an ordinary construction site.

Workers are at constant risk of injury or death from falls and or drowning, in addition to the typical construction site accidents.

We will have to await the OSHA investigation to find out what went wrong. Was there a failure of the brakes of the lift? Should it have been secured to the barge by chains or did someone forget to properly chock the wheels?

The responsibility for the accident will determine if the family can only obtain workers’ compensation death benefits, or if they will have a wrongful death claim against an entity other than the man’s employer.

Source: Wacotrib.com, “Construction worker killed in accident at Baylor stadium site,” Tommy Witherspoon, January 31, 2014