In the latest incident in a spate of on-road construction accidents in the US, a 42-year-old construction worker has been killed by a falling steel beam in Santa Monica.
The man, identified as 42-year-old Lancaster resident Adolfo Wbaldo Figueroa, was crushed to death by a falling steel beam weighing well over a tonne while working on the billion-dollar 405 Freeway project in the Californian area. The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning as the steel beams were being lifted onto trucks.
Fifteen of the victim’s coworkers witnessed the devastating accident. California Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Zizi assured that they would receive counseling and offered ongoing support in light of the events.
The large-scale project has been underway since 2009, with Figueroa’s horrific incident the first major onsite accident. According to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Mark Littman, the project will be halted due to the accident until further safety tests can be undertaken.
“Further work on the entire project has been stopped while the contractor does a thorough safety review,” he says.
The incident is the latest in a series of construction accidents that have taken place during nighttime work hours. Just last month, Granite Construction worker Justin Putts was trapped beneath a paving machine while working on a freeway construction project in Vancouver, Washington. Pitts was trapped beneath the machine for 45 minutes until a team of fire fighters was able to retrieve him.
This newest incident once again raises questions as to the safety of these evening work sites and whether fatigue is contributing to the accidents. According to a research paper by the Transportation Research Board, Identifying and Reducing Worker, Inspector and Manager Fatigue in Rapid Renewal Environment, fatigue is ‘considered serious and in need of further investigation and solutions.’
As it stands, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health will now have six months to investigate the issue.