By Sarah Ahmed
Last week, a temp worker suffered broken ribs from a fall to the 38th floor of the Duke Energy Plaza building in uptown Charlotte, a project led by Batson-Cook Construction. It took a half an hour for rescue teams to bring the worker down from more than 500 feet above the ground. Other construction workers in the area have pointed to the inadequate training of temp workers and lack of safety precautions as the ultimate cause of the preventable fall.
One construction worker in contact with a worker present during the accident told Tribune that the injured man was an inexperienced temp worker who was working on an unfinished building not wearing a harness, standing on a ladder, or secured to the building in any way when he fell. He said that Batson-Cook, has misrepresented how the accident happened, and that the worker actually fell from one floor higher than was reported by the monopoly media.
The worker told Tribune that contractors will throw temp workers onto job sites without the right training or safety equipment, which endangers not only the temp workers but all the other workers as well. “These companies don’t care about temp workers,” he said.
The same worker said that Batson-Cook has temp workers install brackets on the outside of high-rise buildings without a harness. “It’s a fatality waiting to happen,” he said.
A former construction worker for Batson-Cook told Tribune that workers refer to the company as “Batson-Crooks,” because their worksites are often dirty and unsafe. He also mentioned that the work is underpaid.
The Duke Energy Plaza is being developed by Charlotte developer Childress Klein and Maryland-based CGA Capital—the estimated $675 million project will become Duke Energy’s new headquarters.
Batson-Cook, a Georgia-based construction firm, has a history of accidents and serious injuries to workers in Atlanta and Charlotte. In 2008, a worker on another high-rise construction project in Charlotte suffered life-threatening injuries after elevator equipment fell from the eleventh floor, landing on the worker. In 2017, 20-year-old Luis de Leon Jr. died while working on a hospital in midtown Atlanta after a cement bucket fell on him and crushed him to death. Speaking to the monopoly media, a coworker explained that the accident happened because the company used a worn-out nylon cable instead of a steel cable, indicating that the accident was completely preventable.
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