Occupational fatality leads to lawsuit against PPE maker
The widow of a worker who suffered fatal injuries in a fall has filed a lawsuit against 3M, alleging that the manufacturer’s fall prevention product failed to perform according to representations made by the company.
According to news sources, construction worker Walter Burrows died after falling 35 feet in May of 2018 while working on a light-rail project in the Seattle area.
The lawsuit alleges that 3M's DBI SALA Nano-Lok Self-Retracting Lifeline did not arrest Burrows’ fall because it got severed on the beveled concrete edge of a platform and that 3M did not warn that a beveled edge could affect the efficacy of the lifeline.
From the 3M website: “Nano Lok™ locks quickly—stopping a fall within inches—providing more protection at low heights. In addition, tension is always kept on the lifeline, which reduces dragging, snapping and trip falls. Both features are key safety improvements.”
3M denied the allegations and countered that Burrows’ employer, Kiewit-Hoffman East Link Constructors, failed to provide Burrows’ with adequate safety training and equipment.
A jury trial is scheduled to begin on March 21, 2021.
In September 2019, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries' (L&I) Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a hazard alert in which it warned that both self-retracting and non-self-retracting lifelines could be damaged by an abrasive or sharp edge. L&I noted that manufacturers had warned about using the products around edges that could damage the lifeline or prevent it from arresting a fall.