Local News

State investigation begins after worker injured in portable toilet

Posted November 9, 2017 10:11 a.m. EST
Updated July 12, 2018 2:13 p.m. EDT

— Investigators with the North Carolina Department of Labor were working Thursday morning at a Durham construction site to piece together the accident that led to a beam falling on a portable toilet while a man was inside.

Jesse Zimmer, 38, is an employee of Acme Plumbing and Heating Company, which was contracted by Barnhill Contracting Company to work on the site, at 400 Morris St.

Durham police said Zimmer was inside the portable toilet at about 3 p.m. Wednesday when a large metal beam fell from the fifth floor of a building, crushing the toilet.

Zimmer was rushed to a local hospital, where he is being treated for serious injuries.

A Department of Labor spokeswoman said her agency learned about the incident when they saw it on the news. Acme had contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which checks and enforces safe working conditions. The agencies will work together to investigate the accident, Department of Labor spokeswoman Mary Katherine Revel said.

Department of Labor records show that Barnhill operates across North Carolina and in the last 10 years has had six serious violations. Three involved on-the-job worker deaths.

In a statement, Barnhill's senior vice president said "Our thoughts and prayers are with the worker and his family. We are offering our full support to Acme Plumbing Company."

The construction site is part of the Durham Innovation District, which will include 1.3 million square feet of parking, retail, office and residential space, according to the project's website.