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Date PostedJuly 4, 2013

USA Demolition Project results in Six Fatalities

An excavator operator was accused of drug related manslaughter charges after an incident in the USA which left 6 people dead. According to the UK Daily Mail (08/06/2013) an excavator crane operator is accused of being high on marijuana when the incident happened that resulted in the collapse of a building.

Although this tragedy happened on the other side of the world it highlights the danger of drinking and drug taking when engaging in construction work, particularly high risk construction work such as excavator operation.

Read what this post on www.ppconstructionsafety.com explains what happened:

collapsebuildingusaSean Benschop is facing six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe.

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison told The Associated Press that a toxicology report showed evidence that Mr Benschop was high on marijuana. Mr Benschop had samples of his blood and urine tested at a hospital about two hours after the collpase.

Local Mayor Michael Nutter said.

‘We can do much better. We will not accept the status quo in the face of this tragedy.’

Planned reforms for construction sites include random drug testing on “heavy equipment operators”. The mayor also pledged to adopt tougher background requirements for demolition contractors, including information about each worker’s experience, and frequent site inspections.

Construction engineers said the store should have been evacuated during the demolition project taking place next to it.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/06/11/demolition-project-claims-six-lives-in-usa/

This kind of problem is not unique to The USA, the culture of drugs and booze is rife in the construction industry in Oz, as a study of the Brisbane construction industry recently found.

According to researchers at the Queensland University of Technology, the transient nature of construction work, the high wages coupled with a macho culture all contribute to the problem. The majority of participants were male, with an average age of 35 – this group tends to make up the majority within the construction sector.

The research entitled The Safety Impacts of Alcohol and Other Drugs in Construction study analysed the responses of nearly 500 construction workers from areas of the industry across Oz and involved both surveys and interviews, spanning over a 2 year period.

From the study it was deduced that over 50 per cent of workers in the building industry consumed alcohol at “hazardous” levels and a further 15 per cent were at “significant risk of harm”. 16 per cent of the respondents admitted to using cannabis.

Construction workers need to keep in mind that part of their legal duty on a construction site is to conduct themselves in a manner that does not endanger themselves or their co-workers in any way – occupational health and safety regulation dictates it. So taking drugs and engaging in construction work is not only irresponsible but dangerous and illegal, as the incident above demonstrates. In order to engage in such high risk activity it’s crucial workers be in the correct state of mind, mind altering drugs can affect the short term health and safety of workers and also affect their health in the long run.


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

Posted in General Construction, White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles Tagged with: , , , , ,


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