Worker killed by falling beam

May 29, 2008|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

State safety workers are investigating the death of a Pennsylvania man who was struck on the head by a wooden beam at a construction site in northern Harford County yesterday.

A 1,000-pound header beam that was being installed over a doorway of a wooden barn struck and killed Christopher Kohler, 42 of Wrightsville, Pa., authorities said.

"The victim was on a lift and in the process of setting the header when it fell," said Sgt. David Betz, spokesman for the Harford County sheriff's office.

The wooden beam, which was 18 feet off the ground, came loose and fell eight feet, striking Kohler, authorities said.

Kohler died at the scene, in the 3100 block of White Hall Road in White Hall around 10 a.m., Betz said.

The victim was part-owner of Kohler and Kohler Pole Buildings, which was constructing the barn.

A man who answered the phone at the Wrightsville, Pa.- based company declined to comment.

Harford sheriff's deputies will conduct the initial investigation and turn over the information to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency, Betz said.

Kohler was the state's ninth work-related fatality this year, said Rhonda Wardlaw, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency, which investigates workplace deaths.

This year , three of the fatalities were falls, three were cases in which the victim was caught between objects, two were cases in which the victim was struck, and one was an incident in which the victim fell into hot water, Wardlaw said.

The time it takes to conduct an investigation varies with the complexity of the case, said Keith Owens, operations supervisor at the state agency.

"To determine whether regulations have been violated, we look at the work process, interview employees and the employer, take photographs of the scene, and we make a determination whether or not there were any violations," he said.

A report will be submitted, and the agency could issue a citation and assess a penalty if there was a violation, Owens said.

madison.park@baltsun.com

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