Summary: A crew member laboring in extremely high temperatures began to exhibit the warning signs of heatstroke, but his supervisor thought he was high on drugs, so he told a coworker to call the police.
The incident: When Gabriel Infante, a 24-year-old who had recently started working for B Comm Constructors, fell twice while laboring at a job site in San Antonio, TX, his best friend, Joshua Espinoza, became concerned.
After all, temperatures had reached as high as 100ºF as the crew had labored to dig trenches and install fiber-optic cables. Espinoza noticed that Infante was sweating profusely, felt tired and was lightheaded.
Worried, Espinoza alerted the site supervisor to Infante’s erratic behavior, but the manager said the crew member must have been high on drugs. He told Espinoza to contact the police. However, Espinoza called for emergency responders.
The response: When paramedics arrived at the job site a short time later, the supervisor insisted that Infante be tested for drugs. Responders instead lifted the delirious man into an ambulance.
As Infante was being taken to the hospital, his body temperature reached as high as 109.8ºF. Although doctors worked hard to save Infante, the worker was declared dead the next morning from heatstroke.
The aftermath: Infante’s mother, Velma Infante, has filed a lawsuit against B Comm Constructors, contending that the employer failed to provide water and rest breaks to her son as he labored in the excessive heat.
“I don’t understand how they can allow people to work in this type of heat,” said Velma Infante. “I’ve seen so many deaths already in so many different fields that you start to wonder, what are these companies thinking?”
(From the Aug. 21, 2023, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)