‘Look twice’: Construction workers shaken after deadly scaffolding accident

CHARLOTTE — If you look anywhere in Charlotte, you can see the boom in construction, which means countless workers are at these sites each day.

On Monday, three construction workers were killed after falling 70 feet from collapsed scaffolding in Dilworth, according to Charlotte Fire. Two others were hurt.

Crane operator Steve Schaubhut returned to work across the street Tuesday. For him and so many who work in construction, safety was top of mind.

“Just look twice and make sure things are correct,” Schaubhut said.


He said he was on the job Monday morning when he heard a loud bang at the apartment building under construction along East Morehead Street. Concerned, he reached out by radio to the crane operator there to make sure everyone was alright.

“Somebody dropped the ball,” Schaubhut told Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura Tuesday.

According to him, the crews across the street used mast climber platforms. Video from Chopper 9 Skyzoom shows they’re mangled now. But normally, the vertical components work almost like an elevator, allowing multiple people to move up and down the building.

(PHOTOS: 3 dead, 2 hurt in Dilworth scaffolding collapse, Charlotte Fire says)

Chip Darius is a safety instructor for scaffolding and fall protection. He said managing a site like that is the ultimate balancing act, and requires daily inspections to ensure the equipment is working properly.

“There’s 10 million things that could possibly go wrong, and if enough go wrong at the same time, disaster can occur,” he said.

Schaubhut says he feels a huge push in construction to hurry up and get the job done.

“Slow down and make sure they’re doing things correctly,” Schaubhut said.

But his advice for himself and others like him is to take a step back and watch out for other crew members.

“We all stay in communication with one another, we all look out for each other,” Schaubhut said.

Union: ‘It’s something you try to prepare for’

Channel 9′s Genevieve Curtis spoke to an ironworker who said what happened is an important reminder of the danger of the job for those who work in the industry.

Sebastian Feculak is with the Ironworkers Mid-Atlantic District Union, representing ironworkers on construction sites in North Carolina. He said they want to make sure job sites are safe.

“It always shakes everyone to the core, it’s something you try to prepare for,” he said.

Feculak spent Monday morning trying to find out if any of their union members were working at the site when the scaffolding collapsed. He learned none were, but he said a tragedy like this shakes everyone in the industry and leaves them asking a lot of questions.

“What was the incident that lead to those individuals falling and what was the precaution that was taken in case that does happen, and what potentially failed from keeping them from falling?” Feculak asked.

Curtis was there as Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators arrived, about two hours after the accident. Their job is to find answers to the same questions Feculak is asking.

Data from OSHA shows in 2020, there were 1,008 construction fatalities in the United States; 351 of them were falls.

Feculak said the union will be keeping a close eye on the results of this investigation. He said they are especially concerned about safety standards in the industry right now because there is a shortage of construction workers and a high demand for labor.

“Which worries us, we want to make sure -- with all the new construction we are seeing across Charlotte and North Carolina -- that we aren’t cutting corners,” Feculak said.

The Ironworkers, as an organization, are also offering support to families who made need help navigating the next steps.

(WATCH: First responders speak about deadly Dilworth construction site accident)