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Worker Killed at 49ers’ New Stadium

Thursday, June 13, 2013

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A construction worker was killed Tuesday (June 11) while working on the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

Reports citing initial investigations indicate that 63-year-old Donald White was working on a ladder in an elevator shaft when he was struck and killed by an elevator counterweight. He was found around 6:50 a.m., authorities said.

Work on the project was immediately halted and is set to resume Thursday, June 13.

Turner Devcon 49ers' Stadium
Turner-Devcon Joint Venture

State safety authorities say they are investigating a fatal accident at the San Francisco 49ers' stadium currently under construction in Santa Clara, CA.

California Division of Occupational Safety and Health officials have opened an investigation into the accident. That investigation could take up to six months to complete.

The elevator was located on the east side of the site and was a permanent elevator, not a construction one, according to reports.

Subcontractor's Statement, Past OSHA Record

White worked as a certified elevator mechanic and was employed by subcontractor Schindler Elevator Corp., according to authorities.

Schnidler Elevator, headquartered in Morristown, NJ, and Switzerland, said in a statement that it was “extremely saddened” by White’s death, noting that he had worked for the company for several years.

The company added that the “precise cause” of the accident was under investigation and said it was providing the authorities “full support and cooperation” during the investigation.

Donald White
KRON 4 News via Facebook

Donald White, 63, (right) worked as a certified elevator mechanic for several years, according to his employer.

The company said it “is committed to the safety of its equipment, its workers and the riding public.”

In 2011, Schnidler’s San Leandro, CA, office was fined $18,000 after a worker fell 20 feet down an elevator shaft in Palo Alto, according to Cal/OSHA documents. The initial fine for the “serious” violation was increased to $25,000 by an administrative settlement, according to the agency’s records.

Schnidler has been fined nearly $165,000 for six accidents in California since 2008, OSHA records show.

Contractor: Normal Work Day, Terrible Accident

The elevator company was working for Turner-Devcon, the general contractor for the $1.2 billion project. The company is a design/build joint venture between Turner Construction Company of New York, NY, and Devcon Construction Inc., of Milpitas, CA.

A co-director with Turner-Devcon told reporters that the workers were about 40 percent complete on the stadium and had not been rushing when the accident occurred.

“There’s nothing to indicate it was anything more than a normal work day […] and a terrible accident,” Robert Rayborn told the San Jose Mercury News.

In a statement on its website, the company said, “The safety of our work site is our top priority.” It also noted that it had enlisted the help of grief counselors.

Topping out ceremony
Santa Clara Stadium Authority

More than 1,000 men and women have helped to build the stadium. It is about 40 percent complete, according to the contractor.

White’s death was the first major injury or fatality at the stadium construction site since work began in April 2012, according to reports.

"The city is devastated," Dan Beerman, a spokesman for the city told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Turner-Devcon has done such a great job with their safety plans. There's been 1,000 workers a day working at that site for almost a year now, and it's been amazingly safe. We can't explain how bad we feel about the family of the employee that died."

Lost a Teammate

In a statement, the team said, "The 49ers organization was deeply saddened to learn […] of the news at the construction site.”

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers affected by this tragedy. The 49ers family has lost a teammate today."

Construction on what will be called “Levi’s Stadium” will reportedly be finished in time for the 2014 football season.

Contractors At Risk

A total of 4,693 fatal work injuries were recorded in the U.S. in 2011, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 542 of those injuries reported.

Texas (56 percent), Florida (51 percent) and California (42 percent) recorded the highest number of fatal occupational injuries among contractors, according to the Bureau’s statistics.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Fatalities; General contractors; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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