- A Maryland construction worker, 55-year-old Nelson Aguilar-Salamanca, was killed Monday after being hit by a piece of rebar at a construction site in McLean, Virginia, according to the Fairfax County (Virginia) Police Department (FCPD).
- The FCPD said that Aguilar-Salamanca was working in the 1600 block of Capital One Drive, where financial services firm Capital One has a large campus, when the rebar being lifted by a crane fell and struck him. Aguilar-Salamanca died of his injuries at a nearby hospital. There were no other reported injuries related to the accident.
- The department's Major Crimes Bureau is investigating the incident and is awaiting the results of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's autopsy to confirm Aguilar-Salamanca's cause of death. The FCPD is also encouraging those who witnessed the accident to contact the department.
In addition to the police inquiry, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), through its Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) program, has most likely started an investigation into the accident. Virginia is one of 26 states that has a state health and safety plan approved by federal OSHA; Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands also have OSHA-approved plans. State plans must be at least as effective as federal OSHA's safety standards.
As part of Virginia's plan, employers must report all workplace fatalities to a Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) field office within eight hours; however, they can report such incidents through the federal OSHA toll-free telephone line as well.
VOSH, not federal OSHA, investigates workplace accidents that occur in Virginia. VOSH also issues citations and levies fines, but like the federal OSHA process, employers in Virginia can contest them within 15 working days of receipt.
The fines issued under state plans can be as steep as federal OSHA fines. In fact, VOSH levied the biggest fine in the first quarter of 2019 — $528,692 — against Alexandria, Virginia, contractor T.D. Fraley & Sons. The agency alleges that Fraley did not:
- Adequately protect its workers by allowing them to work within 10 feet of overhead, high-voltage power lines.
- Used unsound blocks and boards to support scaffolding.
- Did not ensure that scaffolding was equipped with adequate guardrail systems.
VOSH also cited Fraley for not reporting an injury requiring hospitalization within 24 hours after a worker who was tearing down scaffolding at one of the company's project sites was injured after making contact with an overhead power line.
Fraley's violations are still under contest.
If the initial reports are correct that Aguilar-Salamanca was hit by a falling piece of rebar, that is classified as a struck-by accident, which killed 112 workers in 2018 — 11.1% of all construction fatalities. Along with falls, electrocutions and caught-in/between accidents, struck-by incidents are part of OSHA's "Fatal Four." According to the agency, eliminating these hazards would save the lives of almost 600 construction workers every year.