The building was brick and had at least one 15-foot high supporting wall. The president of the demolition company, who was also acting as the crew’s supervisor that day, was operating a piece of machinery that would dislodge parts of the building and then clear the debris. Two other crew members were standing with their backs to the 15-foot wall when it collapsed without warning, burying them both.
Both of the men suffered severe injuries from the falling brick and mortar. One was removed from the rubble and taken to a hospital with significant internal injuries. The other man died at the scene of the incident.
The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating this incident. According to a spokeswoman, this investigation may take up to six months. For its part, the city plans to hire a different demolition crew once it is able to continue the work.
This has not been the first fatal accident in Arizona over the past 12 months. In fact, the state has experienced at least 14 workplace deaths, although how many of these deaths involved construction accidents is not specified.
In any event, though, this case illustrates how quickly something tragic can happen at a construction site. Employers of construction crews, even if they are working on someone else’s property, have a responsibility to make sure that workers are safe. When tragedy strikes despite an employer’s best efforts, that employer still has an obligation to pay benefits under the workers’ compensation system.
Source: Arizona Daily Star, “Worker in fatal demolition accident is identified,” Carmen Duarte, Sept. 11, 2015