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Arkansas Worker Killed in 11-Foot Fall

Friday, March 20, 2015

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A 29-year-old steel erector has died after falling just 11 feet from a beam he was bolting into place on a job site in Little Rock, AR.

Erik Rivera Pontilla, an employee for subcontractor Hale Steel, lost his footing about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 17), fell and struck his head on a concrete slab below, the Little Rock Police Department told the Arkansas Times.

Initial reports incorrectly stated that Pontilla was employed by Kinco Constructors, the general contractor. Both companies confirmed Thursday (March 19) that he was working for Hale Steel.

11-foot fall fatality

Erik Rivera Pontilla, a 29-year-old steel erector, was working for a subcontractor on a steel building frame erected on the side of this building when he fell 11 feet and was killed.

Founded in 2005, Little Rock-based Hale specializes in erecting industrial and commercial metal buildings and structural steel.

"Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Erik's family, friends and co-workers," Kinco said in an emailed statement.

Hale Steel declined to comment.

Investigation Underway

Work was being performed on a new building for a video production company. Pontilla was working on the second level of a steel building frame, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

While police said no one witnessed the fall, workers reportedly heard a "thud" and discovered Pontilla on the ground.

He was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

OSHA fall protection

OSHA requires the use of conventional fall protection at a height of six feet.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, according to media reports. OSHA did not immediately respond Thursday to clarify if both companies would be part of the investigation.

OSHA Height Disputes

In a police report obtained by, there was no mention of harnesses or nets being used at the job site.

Federal safety standards require the use of conventional fall protection (fall arrest systems, nets or guardrails) at a height of six feet. OSHA also requires site-specific fall protection plans.

In February, the federal agency rejected a regulation in Arizona, which operates a state OSHA plan, that required only a fall protection plan that "reduces or eliminates fall hazards" for workers at six to 15 feet up.


Tagged categories: Construction; Contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health & Safety; North America; OSHA; Structural steel; Subcontractors

Comment from paul graham, (3/21/2015, 10:20 AM)

A prime example of not wearing fall arrest protection, Bless his family

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