A Syracuse man died yesterday after falling into a hydro-turbine. On Monday, July 8, 2011, Wave Hydroelectric, LLC co-owner Jon C. Stranburg fell off of a walkway and into the turbine water tank below. Because the turbine was running, Stranburg was pulled below the surface of the water. According to Syracuse.com, the turbine’s braking system malfunctioned.
In the State of New York, a worker cannot sue his or her employer for lost wages or pain and suffering unless he or she suffers a “grave injury.” According to section 11 of the Workers Compensation law, a “grave injury” is defined as a “death, permanent and total loss of use or amputation of an arm, leg, hand or foot, loss of multiple fingers, loss of multiple toes, paraplegia or quadriplegia, total and permanent blindness, total and permanent deafness, loss of nose, loss of ear, permanent and severe facial disfigurement, loss of an index finger or an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in permanent total disability.”
By definition, the tank Stranburg fell into is a “confined space.” A confined space is an area that limits the way a worker can enter or exit the space. Confined spaces are not intended for continuous occupancy.
Confined spaces are very dangerous. “According to a recent study, almost every attempt to rescue someone trapped in a confined space led to the death of the rescuer,” said Syracuse construction accident lawyer Michael A. Bottar.