Gutter keeps 2 workers from sliding off Cowboys Stadium roof

December 4th, 2009 by

www.dallasnews.com - Two workers were hospitalized after slipping on the icy roof of Cowboys Stadium on Thursday morning and sliding 250 feet before stopping at the edge, Arlington officials said.

The men crashed into a gutter, which prevented them from falling over the side. Fire officials said that the men appeared to be wearing safety harnesses but that the harnesses were not attached to the roof.

Arlington Assistant Fire Chief Don Crowson said that because the men slid flat against the roof, they didn’t appear to be in danger of falling to the ground. But he said that doesn’t mean that’s not a fear for someone working without safety gear.

“It’s very serious what happened to them, but it could have been more serious if they had tumbled and gained enough momentum and speed to shoot past the gutter,” Crowson said.

He said that typical fall protection gear, used properly, would not have allowed the men to slide more than about six feet.

The workers are employees of Amherst, N.Y.-based Birdair Inc., a subcontractor of Manhattan Construction. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, but a report is not expected for about six months.

The more seriously injured worker, whose name was not released, had a broken leg and chest and head injuries and had lost consciousness, fire officials said. He was taken by helicopter to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. An update on his condition was not available Thursday night.

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) identified the other man as Jose Hernandez. He called 911 from his cellphone to report the accident just after 7 a.m. He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth by ambulance. In the 911 recording obtained by WFAA, Hernandez said he had injured his neck and hands.

“We came sliding down the entire roof until we hit the bottom,” he told the dispatcher.

Cowboys officials said the men were on top of the stadium working on fabric roof seams when the accident happened. The temperature was 33 degrees in Arlington at 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. However, the temperature on the roof, about 300 feet high, is often colder and windier than at ground level.

Firefighters stationed nearby arrived about 5 minutes after the call. A crew of at least 12 members the Arlington department’s technical rescue team climbed onto the roof and down to the place where the men landed.

The firefighters carried them in enclosed rescue baskets along the gutter to a corner of the stadium. Then the workers were lowered to a roof deck below so they could be taken into the stadium and then down in an elevator.

Crowson said the technical rescue team has been visiting the stadium since construction started and has often trained there.

“There are unique features to the stadium that need to be understood from a rescue perspective,” he said. “They are very familiar with the stadium.”

The rescue team is stationed about 1 ½ miles from the stadium.

There were several accidents during construction of the $1.15 billion Cowboys Stadium, including one fatality. In June 2008, a worker was electrocuted while testing wiring. A few days earlier, three construction workers were injured during a crane accident.

In August 2007, a construction worker was injured when crane cables struck him in the back. Another worker fell 20 feet from scaffolding and landed on the field in early 2007.

Crowson said such accidents are usually the result of a structural or mechanical failure or a worker not using safety equipment. He said he hopes people learn from the accident.

“Always be aware of your conditions, especially weather conditions when you’re outside, and always use your safety gear,” he said.

With proper precautions, Crowson said, a slip like the one Thursday should lead to little more than a bump or bruise.


One Response

  1. ron mccarthy

    der daer dare dare dare

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