Construction was recently halted on Minnesota's new football stadium following two serious accidents. One worker fell approximately 50 feet and later passed away from his injuries. Another also fell and suffered serious injuries but was listed in stable condition, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In a press conference, the senior vice president of the construction company involved said the workers were in the midst of a routine installation during the early portion of the day. It is unknown if the two workers were wearing safety harnesses. While the construction company is in charge of building the new stadium, according to The Washington Post, the two workers were contractors from another roofing firm.
The stadium, which will serve as the home for the Minnesota Vikings football team, is set to open in the summer of 2016. Until these accidents, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported at the site, according to the Star Tribune. In fact, the newspaper reported the construction company takes workplace safety seriously. For instance, workers have to use a crosswalk to reach the construction site and will not even walk against the light.
The Minnesota Occupational Safety Health Administration has conducted 16 compliance inspections in the last five years at various worksites and reported no citations, the newspaper noted. However, the roofing firm also involved in the accident was reportedly cited for nine serious workplace safety violations. The Star Tribune said most citations were the result of employees not having protection from guardrails or using harnesses when working in a hoist area, defined as spaces six feet or higher from the ground with no protection.
Minneapolis is not the only location where stadiums are being built. With the recent accidents, construction companies and contractors involved in similar projects should ensure the proper workplace safety protocols are in place, including employee safety.
Stadium construction boom
The U.S. is home to numerous stadiums for college and professional teams. In fact, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is the largest in the world. While some organizations are content with their existing facilities, others are breaking ground on numerous projects. According to Sports Business Daily, the sports industry is in the midst of a stadium construction boom. Part of reason comes from all parties fully recovering from the recession, which has led to more resources and hiring of workers.
Another factor in the stadium boom centers around teams wanting to improve the fan experience, particularly in the areas where a stadium was last built 15 to 20 years ago. According to The Arizona Republic, National Football League fans increasingly believe the best game day experience is at home. Instead of fighting through traffic, paying high prices for food and weaving in and out of crowds, NFL fans can stay home and watch their favorite team from the comforts of the couch.
That mindset, in addition to fans' reliance on digital technology, have led teams to spend billions on new stadiums. In an official information page, the Minnesota Vikings said the cost for their new stadium will be just over $1 billion. Another high-profile construction project in Santa Clara, California, Levi's Stadium, cost $1.31 billion, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Worker safety paramount
With rising costs and stadiums trying to include more fan amenities, construction companies cannot forget about worker safety. During construction of Levi's Stadium, two workers died in accidents, according to KNTV, the area's local NBC News affiliate.
Firms and workers have many variables to account for while on-site. Fall protection is an important safety solution. Firms should ensure the right equipment, such as guard rails and harnesses, is present on the worksite. This gear should also undergo regular inspection to protect against potential equipment failure.
"Fall protection is an important safety solution."
Construction companies should also follow the guidelines put forth by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For instance, worksites are to have fall protection set up starting at elevations of four feet. Walking areas in particular should always be cleaned and kept dry to prevent accidents. Firms should contact custom training services if there is any type of confusion over workplace safety and how to best protect employees.
As stadium construction and remodeling projects continue into the near future, safety remains a top priority. As stadiums are designed to be larger and more intricate, managers and employees have to take the necessary precautions while on the worksite. This includes utilizing the proper gear and training workers in the best workplace techniques.