The wife of an ironworker killed while working on a water reclamation project has filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking unspecified damages in excess of $50,000, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
According to the Tribune, Jose Meza was operating a skid steer loader, a small, highly maneuverable vehicle with lift arms and interchangeable attachments, when his body harness became entangled with the machine. Meza was thrown to the ground and crushed to death when the machine rolled on top of him.
The incident occurred in November of last year while Meza was working on a construction project at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, a wastewater treatment facility in the metropolitan Chicago area. Meza was helping with the building of some industrial fencing and gates along the plant’s perimeter when he became caught up in the skid steer loader.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; New Holland North America – the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of the steer loader; F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielson, one of the largest general contractors in the Midwest; and IHC Construction Companies. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s statistics reveal that more workers die while on the job in construction industry than any other occupation or field of work. In 2007, construction accidents accounted for 1,178 fatal work injuries. Many safety experts expect these numbers to rise from 2008 onward due to the economic downturn. In lean financial times, corporations often cut corners that can affect the safety of their employees in an effort to save money or increase profits.