Earlier this month, an accident occurred at the Norfolk International Terminals in Virginia that ended up putting a man in the hospital.
Around 11 a.m., workers discovered a man who fell a little more than 25 feet from a crane. The injured worker landed about 15 feet above the ground on top of a cargo container. The rescue crew put together a rope system to help bring the injured worker to the ground. Reports have not been released indicating whether the worker was incapable of climbing down due to injuries or because he was unconscious. The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.
Apparently, this was not the first accident at the industrial terminal located at the Port of Virginia. According to the Fire Department Chief, a similar accident occurred not four months prior where a worker needed to be rescued in a separate incident. According to the Chief’s report, the cab of a straddle carrier became damaged while the cab was some feet off the ground and the worker was still inside.
Falls are not specific to the construction industry. Industrial terminals that handle heavy cargo loads and containers using cranes can put workers at risk if the equipment is not properly maintained. Driving obstacles and crane traffic can also contribute to safety hazards at industrial terminals. Employers must work to ensure that all workers are trained in safe operation, maintenance of equipment as well as what to do if the equipment malfunctions, causing an accident. If a worker will be operating at any height, the employer must ensure the worker has fall protection gear.
It is unclear how the worker fell, why he was not wearing any fall protection gear or whether he was repairing the equipment. However, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), most falls that occur in work settings are entirely preventable. Given this is not the first incident, this industrial terminal needs to do better to ensure its workers are protected from preventable accidents in the future.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that fights for victims of workplace accidents in Washington, Virginia and Maryland.