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    FATALITIES DURING FIRST DAYS ON SITE

    Recent deaths in Canada and US support ‘newer worker’ theory

    Two recent construction project deaths in Canada and the US lend support to the theory that a disproportionate number of construction fatalities involve younger workers and those who have recently started work on the project. The deaths involved:

    Trapped between two excavators

    Ottawa – 19-year-old man was crushed between two excavators at a new housing development. The man was distributing pay slips when caught between a large excavator and a backhoe. A co-worker said the man was new on the job. The company president said: “We’ve been in business for 36 years and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened. We’re in shock.” Government Officials  added that workers under 25 years of age accounted for 43 per cent of work-related fatalities between 2003 and 2007 with nearly one-third of those deaths were in construction. 

    Fall from office block

    New York – 28-year-old steelworker fell from a hotel tower under construction. He fell 10 storeys landing on scaffolding covering a sidewalk bustling with pedestrians. Co-workers said he was not wearing fall arrest when working outside a guard-rail to install or repair some rebar. He was standing on a piece of plywood that gave way under his weight. New York city official stoped work on the project in view of a failure to provide adequate guardrails and horizontal safety netting on lower floors.

    Comment: The UK Government Inquiry into construction industry fatalities will be reporting in April/May 2009. It will be interesting to see the conclusions as regards risk to younger workers and those new to specific projects. Whatever the conclusion, common sense suggests that effective control of access to site and good quality early induction are critical.

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