BETHESDA, MD — One construction worker is dead and another severely injured after a “key portion” of a parking garage being built at a Maryland mall collapsed Thursday afternoon.
An investigation of the collapse is underway. According to a news release from the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, a new 16-screen movie theater was being built on top of the parking garage when the structure collapsed. There were about 20 construction workers on the site at the time of the collapse.
Montgomery County fire officials reported that around 1:47 p.m. a beam weighing 25 tons fell from the third floor to the second floor, where the injured men were working. Rescuers coordinated with engineers to reach the construction workers and remove them from underneath several tons of concrete and steel.
Fifty-seven-year-old Carroll Dexter Wills of Prince Frederick, Md., died before rescuers could remove him from the debris on top of him. The other worker was stabilized on-site by doctors from Maryland Shock Trauma. According to various news reports, the man was alert and able to talk to medics, but his injuries remain life-threatening.
No other workers at the scene during the collapse were injured. The garage had been closed to the public while construction was underway.
Year after year, the construction industry ranks high on the Labor Department’s list of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2011, 17.5 percent of the 4,114 worker deaths in the U.S. occurred in the construction industry.
Although workplace fatalities have declined since the creation of OSHA in 1970 and the passage of stricter safety regulations, 13 workers are still killed on the job every day in the United States – down from nearly 40 per day in 1970.
“Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home,” said former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. “Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy. American workers are not looking for a handout or a free lunch. They are looking for a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work. They just want to go to work, provide for their families, and get home in one piece.”
The Maryland garage collapse is under investigation to determine the cause of the accident.