Local News

Investigation Continues Into Construction Worker's Fall At Carter-Finley Stadium

Posted June 1, 2004 8:06 a.m. EDT

— Investigators spent the day at North Carolina State University's Carter-Finley Stadium, wanting to know why a construction worker plunged 80 feet to the ground.

The worker, Jose Perez, was in critical condition in WakeMed Tuesday night after the second accident at the site in three months.

Perez fell from the stadium's second level. There have been reports that he was not wearing a safety harness.

According to Diego Garcia, the site's masonry foreman, "we have to wear safety harnesses after six feet above ground."

Turner Construction is the company in charge of the stadium project. Turner's vice president said Perez was wearing a harness but that it was not latched to anything.

"He wasn't tied," Garcia said. "Now, I don't know whose responsibility it was. I don't know if it was his or somebody else's."

At the same site in March, a steel column collapsed. It killed a Hispanic worker and injured two others.

Garcias said the two accidents "make you stop and think about, well, you know, that could have been me."

In the past three months, there have been five construction accidents in Wake and Johnston counties involving Hispanic workers.

That has gotten the attention of Andrea Bazan-Manson, of the Latino advocacy group El Pueblo.

"We know that we have a disproportionate number of Latino workers being seriously injured and dying at work sites," Bazan-Manson said. "We're very concerned about this."

While workplace deaths in North Carolina have been dropping, the number of Hispanics killed on the job has been rising.

The latest federal numbers showed 203 workplace deaths in the state in 2001. The tragedies dropped dramatically in 2002 to 169.

Hispanic numbers go the other direction. Twenty workers died in 2001; 25 were killed on job sites in 2002.

Garcia said Tuesday that he still feels safe on the job -- despite the statistics.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide safety training for Hispanic workers. But rather than being provided with mobile classrooms on site, the workers would have to take classes at community colleges.

"The bill is a very good first step," Bazan-Manson said. "But it's definitely not going to take care of the problem. We need to do a lot more."

Turner Construction does provide safety training on site in Spanish. The company also is working with the Department of Labor to investigate Monday's accident.