An accident at a water tower construction site in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area’s Porter community has claimed the life of one construction worker and seriously injured another. Although the details of the accident remain sketchy, the following facts are well-supported.
Since early June, work crews from Avon, IN-based Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors, LLC had been constructing a 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank in Porter for the Porter Special Utility District. At around 7:15 on the morning of Friday, July 6th witnesses reported hearing several loud “clangs” suggestive of large pieces of metal coming into contact with each other. When first responders arrived on-scene they found four workers inside the partially-completed water tank: two uninjured, one whose condition was described as “seriously injured,” and one worker who was pronounced dead at the scene.
As is almost always the case with heavy construction accidents, assigning “fault” or “blame” in the days or weeks following these events is often a matter of speculation. However, based on interviews with witnesses and statements made by rescue workers, the following sequence of events suggests that an improperly secured load that was being lifted into position by a crane may have broken partially free.
Several people who were among the first to arrive at the accident site reported that it was a series of loud noises that had first caught their attention.
The “loud noises” are certainly consistent with some type of metal-on-metal contact, and the fact that those noises were described as “loud” is suggestive of an “uncontrolled” load situation, such as a sudden failure of the rigging used to secure a load to a crane’s lifting arm.
The fatally-injured worker was apparently unable to avoid being trapped by the section of the water tank that was being moved into position.
In a “controlled” positioning, workers will have ample time to position themselves in locations that will minimize the chance that they will become trapped or pinned between sections that are already in place and sections to be installed.
The final report on the cause of this accident is, of course, several months in the future. We will be providing updates on this investigation as new information becomes available.