construction worker

Construction Zone

A construction worker walks away after securing an iron beam which constitues part of the framework of a new building under construction next to the SAC on Wednesday morning. The finished building, projected to open to the public on January 2013, will be the home of a new computer science center and will feature a receding facade resembling that of stepped pyramids.

Texas State construction worker pulls large blade, attempts assault

[Updated at 2:37 p.m., added name, photo, details]

A construction worker pulled a knife on a co-worker this morning on the Texas State University campus, said Mark Hendricks, director of university news at Texas State. Other local news outlets approximate the blade to be between eight to ten inches.

Police are now seeking Aleczandar Yorick Lovern, 29, in connection with the altercation this morning, according to a Texas State press release.

“A construction worker had an altercation with another construction worker and attempted to assault him with a knife. There was a brief scuffle. No one was injured, but he left the scene on foot. People walking on the scene saw him and alerted the University Police Department, and we sent out the alerts to avoid that area of campus, and we were looking for an armed individual with a knife. Subsequently we found out he is believed to be headed to his vehicle parked in an off-campus area ... They do have an ID on him. They’re looking for him, and have not yet to my knowledge made an arrest. We do not believe he is trying to hurt anybody. He is just trying to leave the campus. As far as I know construction continued,” Hendricks said.

East Side Electrical Repair

Emilia Harris | Daily Texan Staff

A construction worker cools off in the shade while his coworkers service the power lines across the street on Wednesday morning. For Austin residents, construction is a common part of life in the city.

Robin Drake, member of the Workers Defense Project holds a sign while Sen. Jose Rodríguez, D-El Paso, speaks. Construction workers from across Texas continue to call on legislators to end deadly working conditions.

Photo Credit: Lizzie Chen | Daily Texan Staff

Every two-and-a-half days a construction worker dies on the job in the United States, said a Workers Defense Project policy analyst at a rally Thursday at the Capitol.

More than 50 people celebrated Workers Memorial Day to remember the 138 people who died doing construction work in Texas in 2009 and to rally for policy changes to protect workers’ rights in hopes of lowering the number of worker deaths and injuries in the state.

“They build our houses; they build our churches; they build our universities,” said Emily Timm, policy analyst for the project. “As the end users of those buildings, we have a very important role in saying that this is what we expect [for] the people who are building our city.”

The rally participants hoped to encourage legislators to pass three bills to help ensure workers’ rights. One bill would require safety training on all state and government contracts — taxpayers’ money would go toward safety measures.

The second bill would require contractors to allow rest breaks because workers do not currently have the legal right to rest breaks. The final bill would require employers to provide compensation to families of workers who die on the job.

Sen. Jose Rodríguez, D-El Paso, who comes from a farmworker background, spoke in support of the bills.

“When [the Capitol] was being constructed, there were a number of workers that were killed right here in Austin building this beautiful building,” Rodríguez said.

He strongly advocated requiring 15-minute rest breaks for workers.

“That is not only the humane thing to do; it’s the safe thing to do,” Rodríguez said.

After falling off a ladder and breaking his wrist during a painting job in 2009, Fernando Adame had surgery, accumulated more than $11,000 in medical bills and could not work for four months.

His family struggled to make ends meet, and he did not have access to adequate medical care.

“I think it is important for us to be here today so people understand the problems so there are not more deaths and accidents on the job,” Adame said. “What I went through was extremely difficult, and my family suffered greatly. It shouldn’t happen to workers.” 

Juan Martinez stood with his back firmly planted against the wind, hands stuffed into the pockets of his gray hooded sweatshirt. Martinez, a construction worker on the Belo Center for New Media, kept a positive attitude, basking in the midday sun after a cold, cloudy morning. “You don’t understand, I’ve been out here since 5:00 a.m.,” Martinez said. “It can always be worse.” Austin experienced a midday low of 32 degrees Tuesday with winds upward of 25 mph, according to The Weather Channel, and a hard freeze was expected last night. While Martinez stood guard by the barricades blocking off the north side of Whitis Avenue from traffic, other construction workers ate lunch in their cars, the hum of their exhaust indicating a reliance on electric heat. For some of the workers, the cold is far from the worst of their worries. “It’s the wind,” said Javier Castelan, another construction worker on the Belo project. “The crane isn’t operating today because it can really be scary being up there with the wind whipping around you.” The wind affected students getting to class as well. According to a statement from Austin Energy, gusts of wind of up to 40 mph caused citywide power outages. Power was restored to all customers by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. “The only good thing is there’s the prospect of snow or ice that can cancel school,” said biomedical engineering sophomore Marissa Ruehle. For Kristin Schroter, a procurement and payment services staffer, the cold offers no benefits. “There’s an overall malaise when it gets cold,” she said. “I don’t want to exercise. I don’t want to move at all.” Austin’s projected forecast for the remainder of the week promises more cold temperatures, with highs in the mid-30s and lows in the teens, but little evidence of possible precipitation. By the weekend, the temperature is expected to rise to highs in the low 60s with sunny skies. In Dallas, frozen streets and high winds have shut down much of the metroplex. Local weather alerts warned Dallas residents of winter storms, hard freezes and a wind chill until at least Thursday. Much of the country, in a strip stretching from Oklahoma to Maine, is also facing severe snow storms this week.