Worker hospitalized after being pinned in elevator shaft

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man in his 30s is in the hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries after EMS officials say an elevator pinned him in at a Downtown Austin construction site.

Man hospitalized after elevator pinned him in at Downtown Austin construction site (Natalie Hee/KXAN)
Man hospitalized after elevator pinned him in at Downtown Austin construction site (Natalie Hee/KXAN)

The accident happened at the Colorado Tower building, which is currently under construction by DPR Construction.

EMS crews got the call about the “trauma alert” shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday at 302 Congress Ave., where they said the elevator pinned the man’s head.

Medics described it as a “crush injury” and took him to University Medical Center Brackenridge with the critical injuries that were “secondary to the crush injury.”

“He was one of the workers working inside the elevator shaft when the elevator was activated, pinning his head between a concrete surface in that shaft and the steel of the elevator,” said EMS Commander Mike Benavides.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating this incident. That investigation should be complete in the next six months.

Investigators tell us the incident happened as the man worked to remove old radio communications towers at the construction site.

EMS crews took him to University Medical Center Brackenridge with life-threatening injuries. The incident immediately halted construction on the site and workers were sent home for the day.

Christina Tzintzun with The Workers Defense Project says more than one out of every five construction workers in Austin have suffered an injury on the job.

The Workers Defense Project works with cities and developers to make sure construction workers get the proper training.

“We’re all benefiting from the work of construction workers and we need to make sure they too benefit from the growth,” said Tzintzun.

The Workers Defense Project claims Texas is the deadliest state in the country for construction workers with 126 construction workers killed in Texas in 2012.

DPR Construction, the company overseeing the project, released the following statement Wednesday:

Rendering of what the Colorado Tower will look like once complete (Courtesy: Colorado Tower website)
Rendering of what the Colorado Tower will look like once complete (Courtesy: Colorado Tower website)

“An incident occurred this morning at our Colorado Tower construction site at 303 Colorado Street in downtown Austin,” said Gary Nauert, DPR Contruction regional manager overseeing Austin. “We are working with OSHA and the Austin Police Department to fully investigate the causes of this incident and will share updates as we receive them. All work onsite has been halted currently. We can confirm that it impacted only one of our subcontractor’s employees who was working near the exterior of the building. The incident involved injury to the worker’s upper body, resulting in trauma”

“We cannot release the name of the injured worker until family is notified – which we are in the process of doing. He has been taken to the hospital where he is receiving immediate treatment. We do not have any additional information on the status of his injuries at this time.”

“At DPR, we take safety seriously as our number one priority. We promote and nurture an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. DPR is one of the safest contractors in the nation with an OSHA recordable incident rate of 0.91 (below the industry average) based on nearly 5.3 million work hours in 2013. We will determine cause in this incident and ensure any ongoing issue is addressed.”

“At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the injured worker and his family and wish him a full recovery.”

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