A scaffolding accident in the Charter Square building in Raleigh, North Carolina recently killed three construction workers and serious injured one other. Work accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins have decades of experience handling these types of cases, and are here to help injured workers receive maximum damages.
The accident in Raleigh occurred when workers were dismantling part of a mast climber system in the Charter Square building on Fayetteville Street. Mast climbers are elevator-like platforms that allow workers to perform their duties on the facades of buildings at a comfortable angle. Mast climbers must be carefully designed and implemented; if it is incorrectly secured to the building or improperly loaded with materials the system can fail.
One of the non-injured workers was performing duties under the mast climber when he heard a popping sound and his coworkers shouting for others to run away. Seconds later, he heard a loud crash as the system collapsed, according to news reports. The wreckage landed on the portable restrooms, killing one man inside.
The work being done on the 243,000-square-foot Charter Square building is contracted by Choate Construction, which was hired by Dominion Realty Partners. The company responsible for the mast climber system was a subcontractor, however, called Associated Scaffolding. Workers for that company were in the process of dismantling the mast climbers when the accident occurred. Two workers fatally injured were employed by Janna Wall Inc, a company specializing in thin glass or metal walls.
It is not yet known what caused the collapse, though officials with the state's Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) took control of the construction site to conduct an investigation. The investigation could take between three to six months. The only known facts are that a support structure for the mast climber system failed near the building's fifth floor, falling into the performing arts center parking lot on Lenoir Street.
Mast climbers have been used since the early 1980s for work on external walls, commonly to install windows and other glasswork. Although accidents are rare, when they do occur they cause devastating injuries and deaths. In the two decades between 1990 and 2010, at least 18 fatalities have occurred in mast climber accidents.
The system in Raleigh involved a wide platform that was bolted to the building by a central structure. According to North Carolina law, a qualified inspector must examine mast climber systems on a daily basis. These inspections are typically conducted by equipment owners rather than state or federal officials.
OSHA investigators will try to determine whether a qualified person designed the mast climber system, if weight-load limits were being followed, and whether a competent employee inspected it daily. Choate Construction, the contracting company at the lead of this project, works on job site across the Southeast and is Dominion Realty Partners' lead contractor.
Another Southern state, Texas, recently made national news for an unfortunate headline. In 2014 Texas had far and away the most work zone crash fatalities of any state. More than 145 people died in work zone automobile crashes last year, a 20% increase from the year before.