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Worker Struck, Killed by Falling Beam at MT Site

Monday, January 29, 2018

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A construction worker died last week after a concrete column fell on him at the site of a housing project redevelopment in Billings, Montana.

What Happened

Investigators say that around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning (Jan. 23) David Shepard, 39, was standing under the horizontal concrete column when one side of it broke free from the ceiling, causing it to swing down and hit Shepard in the head. Shepard was taken to an area hospital where he died later that day.

No other workers were around when the incident occurred, making the investigation difficult according to Brent Sumner, Vice President of Fisher Construction, the general contractor on the project. Sumner said that workers heard the beam fall and found Shepard unconscious. They proceeded to call 911 and alert a supervisor, protocol that Sumner says the company makes sure to discuss with its employees.

"We talk a lot about it, we preach it. We have toolbox meetings, safety meetings, and calls in case of an accident," Sumner said.

He also noted that, in addition to not knowing how the beam broke away, no one knows why Shepard was there in the first place. The crew hadn’t even been working on the beam.

The company released a statement on its Facebook page, reading: “We are deeply saddened by a tragic accident that occurred with a FCI employee today at one of our jobs in Billings. We have extended our deepest sympathies to the family and are offering as much support to the family as they need to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy. Fisher Construction Inc. is doing everything it can to investigate the incident and is assisting local authorities. At this early stage in the investigation, we can not provide details at this time.”

Area Occupational Safety and Health Administration Director Art Hazen confirmed that inspectors are investigating the incident. According to OSHA's online database, the firm has not had any violations in the past five years.

Sumner said that, while work is continuing at the site, some employees are staying home to grieve Shepard, who was said to be a “jack of all trades” for the firm, working on woodworking, demolition and framing.

"It's been very difficult, especially for the guys on-site," he said. "David was a good, hardworking guy and he was pretty well liked. It's always hard to lose a friend."


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Safety

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