UPDATE: The county coroner announced Thursday that the death of Joseph Sabbatino has been ruled a suicide, according to The Los Angeles Times.
- The death of 36-year-old Joseph Sabbatino, an electrician who fell 53 stories from a downtown Los Angeles tower being built by Turner Construction on his second day on the job, is under investigation as a potential suicide, according to The Los Angeles Times.
- Turner and Sabbatino's employer, ASSI Security, said Sabbatino had no work duties above the third floor, and, according to The Times, there was an 8-foot metal fence designed to keep people from falling. Witnesses to the fall said he removed his hard hat and was not wearing fall protection equipment.
- Turner said that Cal/OSHA and the Los Angeles Police Department determined that the fall was "not work-related" and that Cal/OSHA could find no fall protection violations.
Sabbatino’s death caused a jobsite shutdown and evacuation. Turner said all workers at the site, including Sabbatino, had been through safety training and that this was the first serious injury on the project.
Work on the Wilshire Grand project will resume today, and grief counselors will be on the site for all workers, according to The Times.
Construction is one of nine occupations with the highest risk for suicide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experts have said that construction workers are at particular risk for several reasons — including the physical demands, the stress of dealing with seasonal employment issues, low access to mental health care, and a "tough-guy" culture that can prevent workers from seeking help for fear of appearing weak.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death of men ages 25-54, with 42,000 suicides each year. The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, along with nonprofit and corporate partners, has published a guidebook targeted at the construction industry intended to let construction executives know how to prevent suicide and promote health and safety within their companies.