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Tampa High-Rise Construction Worker Dies

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 15, 2013 at 05:22 PM
TAMPA -

A 28-year-old construction worker has died after a slender metal rod fell 26 floors Wednesday morning, piercing his helmet and head, officials said.

Tampa General Hospital spokeswoman Ellen Fiss confirmed today that Rafael Villasenor Cazares died from injuries suffered while he was working at The Element, a 36-story high-rise at 808 N. Franklin St.

The rod that struck the worker was a snap tie, used to hold forms together while cement is poured, said Frank Fralick, executive vice president of Manhattan Construction Co., which is working on The Element. The rod is about one-eighth of an inch thick and roughly 20 inches long, he said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

"We would determine in general whether or not the protective equipment was adequate," said Les Grove, area director for OSHA's Tampa office. He could not discuss the incident at The Element in detail.

All workers who are in possible danger of head injury from impact, falling objects, electrical shock and burns must wear protective helmets that meet the specifications of the American National Standards Institute, he said.

Cazares worked for a subcontractor at the site, American Pan & Engineering Co., Fralick said.

A spokeswoman at that company's headquarters in Palmetto, Ga., declined to comment Wednesday.

Stephen McDonald, an operations manager at the construction site, said this has been the most serious accident at The Element. Crews have put in more than 700,000 hours and recorded only four on-site accidents, such as cuts and scrapes, he said. "Nothing of the magnitude of this," he said.

Grove said he was not aware of similar incidents of construction workers impaled through protective headgear.

Employers are required only to report incidents that result in fatalities or injure three or more people, Grove said.

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