A construction worker working on the 50th floor of a high rise condo accidentally dropped his tape measure on a man below, killing him.
The 58-year-old victim, Gary Anderson, was another on-duty construction worker who wasn’t wearing his hard hat at the time of the incident.
The accident occurred at the construction site at 70-90 Columbus Drive in Jersey City, according to witnesses and authorities. The high rise worker was unfastening the measuring tape from his work belt when it slipped out of his hands.
The measuring tape – which weighed only 1 pound – fell almost 500 feet and reached a speed of 140 mph before it ricocheted off of a piece of construction metal and hit Anderson. He was rushed to Jersey City Medical Center and went into cardiac arrest while doctors were treating him. Anderson was pronounced dead from head injuries just before 10 p.m. that night.
Anderson worked as an independent contractor for New York-based trucking company George Hildenbrandt Inc. and had been delivering a load of drywall to the project.
Who’s at fault?
Was it the high rise worker for failing to properly secure his tape measure? The victim for leaving his hard hat behind? The employer for allowing poor construction zone practices? Or someone else?
As always, it depends. Based on the size of the construction project, there are a wide variety of individuals involved at a construction site. Larger construction projects typically involve a lot of delegation of both work and legal responsibility, from site owner to general contractor, general contractor to sub-contractor, etc.
In general, the landowner of a construction site cannot be held liable for any injuries that occur during construction since the landowner gives up legal possession of the land during a project.
General contractors, prime contractors and sub-contractors must provide workers with working conditions that are reasonably safe and warn workers of any defects or hazards in the area (such as dangerous zones to be walking). They can be at fault if something goes wrong.
This duty extends to the hiring of reasonably competent employees and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
Architects and engineers can also be charged with different levels of responsibility for a construction project and can be held liable for injuries suffered by construction workers if their designs don’t adhere to certain code regulations and safety standards.
According to OSHA Safety Regulations, the issue of who’s responsible for an accident often depends on who was in control of the job site when the employee was hurt.