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Date PostedMay 29, 2013

White Card Update: Freak Accident Claims Worker’s Life in Chicago

Sometimes accidents on construction sites happen even with the best safety plans, freak accidents can still occur. An incident which happened on a construction site in Chicago in The USA recently is an example of this.

The construction worker on a site in Chicago’s North Western University Campus in Evanston died after an accident which involved him being struck by a beam which fell from six stories up.

The man was engaged in work on the site when the beam unexpectedly came plummeting down from six storeys high, before hitting him in the head and chest. The beam was apparently knocked loose by a construction crane on the site according to media reports in the City of Evanston.

This is what happened according to an article on the Chicago Tribune’s website:

A man working at a construction site on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston who died after he was struck by a beam that fell from six stories up this morning has been identified.

The beam was knocked loose by a construction crane and struck the worker, causing head and chest injuries, according to a City of Evanston press release.

Source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-16/news/chi-worker-dies-northwestern-construction-site-20130516_1_music-and-communications-building-jay-parrott-beam

Workers are most at risk from falling objects when they work beneath cranes, scaffolds, etc., or where overhead work is being performed. There is a danger from flying objects when power tools, or activities like pushing, pulling, or prying, may cause objects to become airborne. Injuries from both falling and flying objects can range from minor abrasions to concussions, blindness and even death as it did in this case.

Although it may be difficult to avoid being hit by falling objects there are some precautions workers can take. Especially because they usually have little control over falling objects, it usually occurs at the hands of another worker, they may not be able to stop objects from falling but they can minimise the severity of the consequences of being hit by an object.

Simple precautions such as wearing hardhats at all times while on site and stacking materials to prevent sliding, falling, or collapse, as well as using protective measures such as toe boards and debris nets can help eliminate or minimise injuries.

Workers should also

  • Avoid working underneath loads being moved.
  • Ensure hazardous areas are fenced off or barricaded and warning signs are posted.
  • Inspect cranes and hoists to see that all components, such as wire rope, lifting hooks, chains, etc., are in good condition.
  • When engaging in work with cranes and hoists, do not exceed lifting capacity of cranes and hoists.

When engaging in overhead work:

  • Secure tools and materials to prevent them from falling on people and workers below.
  • Barricade hazard areas and post warning signs to inform people that there is a risk of falling objects.
  • Use toeboards, screens, or guardrails on scaffolds to prevent falling objects, or
  • Use debris nets, catch platforms or canopies to catch or deflect falling objects.


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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