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3-Ton Concrete Topples onto Worker

Thursday, September 12, 2013

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A Colorado construction worker is lucky to be alive after massive decorative concrete panels fell onto a hydraulic lift vehicle he was driving on a rail and highway project.

The unidentified worker from SEMA Construction Inc. suffered a broken ankle and a cut by his left eye when the three-ton concrete panels fell around 10 a.m. MT Sept. 4.

SEMA Construction is working in Aurora, CO, to construct a light rail system and widen Interstate 225. The $43 million project is being jointly funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation District.

SEMA Construction injury
FOX31 Denver

A construction worker for SEMA Construction was injured when huge concrete panels fell onto the hydraulic lift he was operating.

"The panel came down and hit the truck and hit him as a consequence and knocked him over. We're not sure if it was a mistake that was made, but right now they're doing an investigation," Bob Wilson, spokesman for the CDOT, told ABC7 News.

Drains Compromised Structure

Wilson said that a drainage pipe was being installed below pre-formed, decorative concrete panels, compromising the structures and causing them to collapse. The panels are 10 feet wide and 12 to 16 feet high. Each weighs about three tons.

Citing Wilson, FOX31 reported that 13 of the panels came loose. Three fell on the worker who was inside a hydraulic lift vehicle, and 10 fell backward toward the wall. ABC7 News, citing an Aurora fire official, said that three of the panels fell, and at least two fell onto the worker and lift.

PaintSquare News was not immediately able to confirm exactly how many panels fell, and requests for more information from SEMA Construction and the CDOT were not immediately returned on Wednesday (Sept. 11).

"It could have been much worse, or there could have been people working down below where the wall would have come down," Wilson told FOX31.

Tom Clark, a Senior Vice President for SEMA Construction, told ABC7, "The settlement caused them to settle just a little bit, so that the bracket at the top that was holding them into place didn't hold them in place any longer."

The worker has been reportedly released from the hospital. "Fortunately, he was not seriously injured," Clark said.

light rail project Colorado
Regional Transportation District

SEMA Construction is working on a $43 million project funded by CDOT and the Regional Transportation District. SEMA says that 80 to 90 percent of its work is for government entities.

Media reports stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials were on the scene last week. OSHA representatives for the area could not immediately confirm Wednesday (Sept. 11) if they were investigating.

SEMA's OSHA History

According to ABC7, Clark said SEMA Construction had a similar accident last year at a Colorado construction site when a concrete wall panel held up by temporary supports fell onto a worker and pinned him to the side of a ditch. Clark said that worker had fully recovered.

SEMA Construction has been inspected by OSHA more than 20 times since 2003, according to an OSHA establishment search. Violations stemming from several of the inspections included respiratory protection, hazard communication, fall protection, cranes and derricks, struck-by hazards, and concrete and masonry construction requirements.

OSHA issued one serious citation in 2006 related to cranes and derricks after a crane operator was killed on a Colorado Springs job site. The operator was using a hydraulic crane to lift and place concrete barriers on the side of a highway off-ramp when the crane tipped and the cab was crushed, killing the worker, according to OSHA.

SEMA Construction is headquartered in Centennial, CO, and has additional offices in Irvine, CA; Orlando, FL; and Austin, TX. The company's SEMA Precast Inc. office is located in Brighton, CO.

Founded in 1991, the full-service construction firm specializes in highways, earthwork, bridges and structures, dams and reservoirs, utilities and civil infrastructure. According to its website, approximately 80 to 90 percent of SEMA Construction's work is for government entities.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Contractors; Department of Transportation (DOT); Health and safety; OSHA

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