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Construction accident takes life of worker

One of the most important things investigators do after a construction accident involving injuries or fatalities is to try to determine exactly why the accident took place. Was the equipment in good working order, was the employee properly trained, were safety procedures being followed? Those are the kinds of questions investigators try to answer.

They will certainly be asking those questions and more as they figure out what went wrong in a fatal construction accident far from New York.

The Colorado incident last week took the life of a 39-year-old worker. He had been reportedly trying to get a 60-foot-long drill to work properly when the drill restarted, ensnaring the man's fall-prevention cord. He was subsequently spun so severely, according to media reports, that his body was nearly severed in half.

His co-workers were understandably traumatized by the gruesome disaster. One worker told a reporter that he'd been standing right next to the man who died, but he couldn't talk about what had happened.

The construction work involved drilling beneath an apartment building as part of a process of shoring up retaining walls. The structure sits atop a steep hill.

The horizontal drill has a diameter of seven inches. It's attached to a drilling platform and a 200-ton crane.

Investigators will be trying to determine what was wrong with the drill prior to the accident. Workers had apparently been unable to shut the drill off; even its emergency shut-off failed, according to reports.

Why then would a project supervisor allow workers to continue to try to use the malfunctioning heavy equipment? That isn't clear yet.

But Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators are there trying to put the puzzle of this deadly workplace accident together.

Source: Aspen Daily News: "Man killed in construction accident near Highlands" by Chad Abraham: Aug. 12, 2011

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