Fallen pipes badly injure construction worker

by Matthew Abbott | 11/21/05 6:00am

A construction worker remains in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Monday after an accident last Tuesday left him trapped under a pile of copper piping.

The worker, 49-year-old Brian Gagnon of Randolph, N.H., was helping to load copper piping into a storage trailer located off Maynard Street at the time of the accident. He is an employee of Ouellette Plumbing and Heating Corporation of Williston, Vt.

Hanover Police received a call about the accident at 1:29 p.m. Tuesday, and a Hanover Fire Department ambulance was first to arrive on the scene. By the time medical officials arrived at the scene, fellow workers had already used a forklift to free Gagnon from underneath the piping.

"Apparently the racks holding the tubing shifted and pinned him on his back on the ground," Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said.

Two other construction workers were also treated after the accident. One sustained minor injuries while freeing Gagnon, and the other was known to have a heart condition and was very distressed after the accident.

Police secured the accident scene and preserved it for subsequent investigation by the Concord office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The OSHA investigation began approximately two hours after emergency officials were first called to the scene.

According to Matthew Purcell, assistant director of the budget and contracts division of the College's Office of Planning, Design and Construction, construction work on the McLaughlin Residential Cluster was not affected by the accident.

"Since the accident and subsequent investigation occurred in the subcontractor's storage trailer, a distance from the actual construction, the accident did not disrupt work on the project," Purcell said. "On Tuesday all the other construction trades continued their work until the end of the workday at 3:30 p.m."

But Ouellette Plumbing and Heating Corporation temporarily discontinued work on the project so that their employees could seek counseling and other assistance. They are expected to resume work on the project Monday.

The accident is still being investigated by OSHA. According to OSHA Assistant Area Director Steve Rook, no details can be divulged concerning the ongoing investigation, and officials have six months to complete their investigation.

According to Roland Adams, the College's director of media relations, Dartmouth is troubled by the incident.

"The College is very concerned about Mr. Gagnon and his family and wishes him a complete and speedy recovery," Adams said. "The College is likewise concerned that there was an accident on one of its construction sites and plans to work with the general contractor to see if the safety measures the contractor has in place ... can be strengthened."