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NFL Stadium Project Claims 2nd Worker

Thursday, October 17, 2013

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A subcontractor’s employee was crushed to death by a load of rebar this week during construction of the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium—the $1.2 billion project’s second worker death in four months.

Work crews returned to the site Tuesday (Oct. 15) morning, less than 24 hours after the accident. General contractor Turner-Devcon held safety review classes for the roughly 900 employees working on the job.

Edward Erving Lake II, 60, of Vacaville, CA, was crushed early Monday (Oct. 14) morning as the rebar was being unloaded from his truck at the Santa Clara construction site, according to various reports and Turner / Devcon.

49ers Levi's Stadium aerial
49ers Media Center

The San Francisco 49ers’ $1. 2 billion Levi’s Stadium, set to open July 2014, has seen two work-related deaths in four months. Edward Erving Lake II, 60, died Monday (Oct. 14) and Donald White, 63, died June 11.

Lake, a delivery truck driver for a building materials subcontractor, was “severely injured” and  died later at a local hospital, Turner / Devcon said.

Cal/OSHA spokesman Peter Melton said Lake had been standing on the driver's side of the flatbed when he was killed, while the forklift and operator were on the passenger side of the truck.

Investigation Ongoing

Lake's death follows the June death of an elevator mechanic, Donald White, 63.

California’s Department of Industrial Relations (Cal-OSHA) is investigating Monday’s incident; however police and fire investigators determined Lake’s death to have been an accident, according to a statement by Jonathan Harvey, a spokesman for the general contractor.

“While Cal OSHA’s investigation is ongoing and could take months, they have told us that the jobsite has been deemed safe and is permitted to re-open,” Harvey said.

'Deepest Sympathies'

Lake was an employee of Tampa-based Gerdau Ameristeel, a subcontractor on the project, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The global long steel producer offered these words in a statement to the newspaper:

Edward Erving Lake II

Edward Erving Lake II was crushed by a load of rebar being unloaded at the jobsite. State safety officials are investigating.

"Gerdau is saddened to confirm that an employee at our Napa Reinforcing Steel facility passed away after a serious incident this morning at the Levi's Stadium construction site in Santa Clara."

"We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends during this difficult time. An investigation into the cause of the incident is underway."

Further details about Lake were not immediately available.

Past Safety Violations

According to OSHA’s database, Gerdau Ameristeel has a record of past safety violations throughout the country.

For example, in 2010, the steel producer was fined $28,000 and issued 12 citations after a worker was struck and killed by a forklift at a steelmill in Georgia. In that case, three of the citations were deleted and penalties were dropped to $10,800 through informal settlement negotiations, according to OSHA’s database.

More recently, in January 2013, the company was fined $900, later reduced to $720, for five other-than-serious safety violations in Tennessee, agency records show.

Additional Condolences Offered

The 49ers organization also offered sentiment for Monday’s tragedy, as did the general contractor.

“Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers affected by this tragedy,” the team told members of the media.

Turner / Devcon said it was “deeply saddened” by the incident and offered its thoughts and prayers.

The contractor further said that it would be addressing the workers Tuesday morning and providing them “with proper support systems to assist them dealing with their emotions following this tragedy.” Reports have indicated as many as 1,000 workers are onsite each day.

The contractor is a design/build joint venture between Turner Construction Company of New York, NY, and Devcon Construction Inc., of Milpitas, CA.

June Accident

Monday’s accident follows the June 11 death of 63-year-old Donald White.

White, a certified elevator mechanic and employee of Schindler Elevator Corp., was working on a ladder in an elevator shaft when he was struck and killed by an elevator counterweight.

Donald White
KRON 4 News via Facebook

Donald White, 63, (right) worked as a certified elevator mechanic for several years, according to his employer. State safety authorities said the investigation into White's death did not result in any citations for misconduct.

Work on the project was stopped for two days following that incident, according to the general contractor.

Cal-OSHA spokeswoman Kathleen Hennessy told the San Jose Mercury News that an investigation into White's death did not yield any citations for misconduct.

“The agency described him as an experienced technician who was on a ladder and had sent his apprentice up the shaft to retrieve a tool, and that because there were no witnesses, it remains unknown why he didn't move out of harm's way,” the paper reported.

Accelerated Work Plan

Levi’s Stadium, which broke ground April 2012, is expected to open in time for the 2014 NFL season, reports indicate.

When complete, the facility will feature 1.85 million square feet and seat approximately 68,500.

It was designed by HNTB Architecture as a multi-purpose facility with the flexibility to host a wide range of events, including domestic and international soccer, college football, motocross, concerts and other civic events, and will be expandable for major events such as the Super Bowl, according to officials.

An update posted to Turner / Devcon’s website on Aug. 19 said the stadium was halfway complete.

“Officials say the accelerated work plan involves a highly coordinated scheme to maximize efficiency and avoid delays,” according to The Associated Press.

Still, the two deaths have rattled workers on the project, NBC Bay Area reported Wednesday (Oct. 16).

"I'm worried for my safety," roofing worker Ross Fuentes told the news outlet.


Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Fatalities; General contractors; Health & Safety; Health and safety; OSHA; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

Comment from Earl Briggs, (10/17/2013, 12:42 PM)

Obviously aggresive scheduling playrd a factor in both.

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