Wrongful Death Alleged in Fall Safety Harness Case

Source: WA State L&I

The widow of a construction worker who died after sustaining injuries in a fall is alleging in a lawsuit that the fall safety equipment used by her husband was ineffective.

According to Construction Dive, the lawsuit against 3M, manufacturer of DBI SALA Nano-Lok Self-Retracting Lifeline, claims the product failed and did not protect construction worker, Walter Burrows, from a 35-foot fall on May 22, 2018. Burrows survived the fall but died from his injuries later that day at the hospital.

Burrows was killed while working on the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority’s (Sound Transit) $3.7 billion East Link light-rail project in the Seattle area.

The plaintiff alleges that Burrows used the equipment correctly by attaching the lifeline to both a secured anchor point on the elevated platform where he was working and to his safety harness.

According to the complaint, the lifeline, which is supposed to detect a rapid descent and arrest it, did not work in stopping Burrows’ fall but was severed on the beveled concrete edge of his platform. 

3M has denied all allegations implying that the company or its product is at fault.

Among others, the company maintains that the victim’s employer, Kiewit-Hoffman East Link Constructors (Kiewit) failed to provide Burrows with the proper safety training, equipment, and instruction, and for not providing a safe work environment.

Also in the answer to the complaint, 3M alleges Burrows failed to select the correct equipment.

In September 2019, more than a year after the accident, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ (L&I) Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a hazard alert about using lifelines near sharp or abrasive edges.

The jury trial is set for March 21, 2021.