It sounds like a freak accident. At a construction site in New Jersey, a tape measure came loose from a worker’s belt and fell fifty stories, striking another worker on the head. Gary Anderson was rushed to the hospital but it was too late. He was pronounced dead on November 3rd less than an hour after the accident.
Interviews with other workers at the scene have established that it was a hard hat area, and that Anderson was not wearing a hard hat. The narrative has tried to shift the blame to Anderson, maintaining that it was his own inattentiveness that led to his death. After all, we are all each responsible for making sure we have the proper equipment at a construction site.
This narrative, though initially compelling, just doesn’t hold true. The ultimate responsibility for worker safety rests on management, not on the individual. After all, Gary Anderson was just there to deliver some drywall. He didn’t have the necessary knowledge of the area to know how unsafe it might be. Only those in charge of the construction could know that.
Unfortunately, Americans can’t rely on those in charge to keep us safe. Though the supervisors of the site should have insisted Mr. Anderson wear a hard hat, they didn’t, and he’s dead. The other workers could also have pointed out to Mr. Anderson that it was a hard hat area, but they didn’t. If you are working in construction or any other type of potentially unsafe area, make sure that both you and others are:
- Wearing hard hats
- Wearing flame retardant materials, if applicable
- Using eye and ear protection when working with tools
- Using masks or other forms of protection against inhalation when working with dangerous chemicals or substances
If someone else had advised Gary Anderson of the dangers of the worksite, he might still be alive today. As working Americans, we must do everything we can to protect our coworkers. Sometimes that means making sure they have the proper safety equipment. Sometimes that means holding management accountable for unsafe work conditions. If you or someone you love has been injured at the workplace, please contact a qualified lawyer to help you keep you and others safe.