OSHA investigating fall from scaffold fatality

A Chicago iron worker was killed and another critically injured on June 6 when the pair fell from scaffolding being used to construct the University of Chicago Medical Center’s new Comprehensive Cancer Center Building.

scaffolding, scaffold, construction accident, osha, fall from height, work at height, construction death, scaffolding death One worker was killed and another critically injured on June 6 after the pair fell from scaffolding at the University of Chicago Medical Center’s new cancer center project. (Photo: Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto, Reuters)

Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said strong winds caused the scaffolding at the construction site to collapse. Wind gusts reached upward of 55mph on June 6, with Langford noting the high winds caused the scaffold to blow away from the building, resulting in the workers falling nine stories. 

Langford identified David O’Donnell, 27, of Oak Forest, IL, as the worker who died at the site. The other worker, who has not been identified, was critically injured and is being treated at a medical center. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened probes into the four companies involved with the project: Turner Construction, New Horizon Steel, High-Tech Stake-Out Inc., and Adjustable Concrete Construction. The investigations will take up to six months. 

Turner Construction serves as the general contractor for the cancer center project. In a statement released last week, Turner said that it had stopped work at the construction site and would offer workers grief counseling. The general contractor has no OSHA history in Illinois within the last five years.

Additionally, New Horizon Steel has no previous history with OSHA.

“At New Horizon Steel, the safety and well-being of our employees is our top priority,” the company said in a statement. “We are devastated by the incident that took place and the tragic loss of life of an employee on the project, who was not employed by New Horizon Steel but by another contractor. We are thankful that the New Horizon Steel employee who was also injured is reportedly stable and expected to make a full recovery, and we are currently investigating the cause of the incident to ensure something like this never happens again. We are also fully supporting all authorities in their investigations.”

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