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Falling Tape Measure Kills Worker

Thursday, November 6, 2014

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A New Jersey construction worker was struck and killed by a one-pound tape measure that fell some 400 feet at a nearly completed apartment project in Jersey City.

The worker—Gary Anderson, 58, of Somerdale, NJ—had just parked his truck Monday (Nov. 3) and was stepping out of the vehicle to deliver wallboard at the jobsite when he was knocked unconscious by the falling object, Carly Baldwin, a spokeswoman for the Jersey City Department of Public Safety, told members of the media.

construction tools
© / miflippo

A 58-year-old who was delivering wallboard to a construction site was killed by a falling tape measure. The worker was not wearing a hard hat, authorities said.

The tape measure had reportedly dislodged from the waist of another worker atop the 50-story apartment building under construction.

The one-pound object then plummeted, ricocheting off metal equipment 15 feet above the ground before striking the victim about 9 a.m. ET, reports said, citing authorities and witnesses.

Anderson was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where he died shortly before 10 a.m., with his wife and daughter at his side, reports relate.

No Hard Hat

Anderson was not wearing a safety helmet at the time of the incident, but had one in his vehicle, according to Baldwin.

The site’s general contractor, AJD Construction, told investigators that its policy required all workers to wear helmets and that it was not clear why Anderson had not been wearing his, according to the New York Times.

Anderson was an independent contractor working for New York-based trucking company George Hildebrandt Inc., reports said. He was delivering a National Gypsum product to the site at the time of the accident, reports said.

"He was a very good worker," an employee of George Hildebrandt told the New York Post. "He worked with us for a long time."

Work Halted; Investigation Underway

Work at the site was temporarily halted following the incident. The project, comprised of two high-rise residential towers and an attached hotel, is being developed by Panepinto Properties and Ironstate Development.

AJD Construction did not respond to a request for comment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun an investigation into the incident.

© / Ralph125

Falling objects pose a threat to workers below. (The above image does not represent the jobsite in this particular case.)

OSHA refers to falling objects in its Construction Standards.

“All materials, equipment and tools, which are not in use while aloft, shall be secured against accidental displacement,” the rule states.

Moreover, in its Construction e-Tool, the agency says, “Workers secure tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people below.”

OSHA’s investigation could take up to six months.

A worker at a nearby site told the New York Times of the dangers of high-altitude construction sites like the one in this case.

“A tape measure is like a gun at a construction site,” Edwin González said. “Like a police officer, you don’t pull it out unless you’re going to use it.”

In 2013, 245 workers were fatally struck by falling objects or equipment on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Jobs; North America; Paint application equipment; Safety equipment; Workers

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