OSHA Launches Probe Into Death of Construction Worker Hit on Head by Tape Measure

Petrillo & Goldberg Law

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Petrillo & Goldberg Law

Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) January 6, 2015 – Gary Anderson, 58, was delivering drywall to a nearly completed building when a falling object struck and killed him.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation into a November 3 worksite accident. Anderson, an independent contractor from Somerdale, New Jersey, was delivering wallboard to a 50-story apartment building under construction in Jersey City, New Jersey when the accident occurred. Anderson was knocked unconscious after a falling tape measure struck him, and he later died of his injuries.

Shortly before 9:00 a.m., Anderson arrived at 70 Christopher Columbus Drive, which is near the Grove Street PATH station, and emerged from his truck when a tape measure slipped off the tool belt of a construction worker at the top of the structure. The tape measure plummeted 400 feet before bouncing off a piece of metal equipment and hitting Anderson in the head. He was talking to an SPI employee when the tape measure struck him, according to U.S. Department of Labor spokeswoman Leni Uddyback-Fortson. 

Anderson was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where he died at 9:52 a.m. Work at the site was temporarily halted.

OSHA is investigating three companies involved in the construction of the apartment building: Jangho Curtain Wall Company, which did scaffolding work; Specialty Products & Insulation Company, which had the contract to supply the project’s drywall; and AJD Construction, which is the project’s general contractor.

The police report stated that Anderson was not wearing a hardhat when the incident occurred, although he had one in his truck. AJD Construction told investigators that company policy requires that all people on on its worksite wear helmets. Shortly after the incident, a worker was seen placing a sign with the helmet requirement advisory on it.

“The belated attempt to post a declaration of company policy on the use of hardhats does not negate a landowner's or occupier's duty of reasonable care toward invitees,” said Steven Petrillo, a prominent attorney in Pennsauken, New Jersey. His firm, Petrillo & Goldberg, specializes in premises liability cases. “And in the case of the construction site accident in Jersey City, the independent contractor delivering drywall was clearly an invitee.”

OSHA, whose probe of the Jersey City apartment building accident began within two weeks of the incident, has six months to complete the investigation. 

According to the most recent OSHA statistics, there were 796 construction site fatalities in the United States in 2013. An object striking a worker was deemed responsible for 82 of those fatalities, the second leading cause of construction site deaths (behind the 294 workers who died as a result of a fall).

“While the tragic death of the independent contractor in Jersey City appears, at first blush, to be a freak accident, construction site fatalities of workers struck by an object are, unfortunately, not uncommon,” Petrillo said. “And it is just one of several potential causes of injury or death that construction workers are exposed to in their line of work.”

Petrillo & Goldberg Law

6951 North Park Drive
Pennsauken, NJ 08109

19 South 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

70 South Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096

Phone: 856-486-4343
Fax: 856:486-7979

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