Lawmakers introduce construction site reform policies following teen's death

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 19:41:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — The death of a 16-year-old who fell more than 100 feet at a construction site is prompting change in Tennessee. State and local leaders are introducing legislation with the hope to prevent another construction site death.

Gustavo Enrique Ramirez had more life to live. But it was cut short when the 16-year-old fell to his death at a construction site. He wasn't wearing a harness and according to the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA), employees are not required to wear harnesses when working on scaffolding with attached guardrails.

In a virtual press conference, local leaders and worker's rights advocates discussed the need for strong accountability and higher penalties on contractors and developers.

"I appreciate you all including me in this meeting and allowing me the platform and the opportunity to speak to you all and allow my brother’s name to be more than just a name or an age or a statistic on a piece of paper," said Jennifer Enamorado, Gustavo's sister.

Metro council member Joy Styles introduced a resolution that would keep anyone under the age of 18 off of a construction site without proper training or equipment.

"Now we take it to the state level; and we are going to work to establish clear work guidelines for our youth, as well as implementing in general safety requirements all the way around," said Styles.

State Representatives Mike Stewart and Vincent Dixie want legislation forcing strong accountability and stiffer penalties for violations on contractors and developers.

"I don’t want it to be one of those things where the contractor just pays a fine and move on. There has to be some sort of real consequences," said Dixie.

A consequence they all agree is powerful enough to prevent another Gustavo Enrique Ramirez death in Tennessee.

Worker's advocates like Ethan Link with the local labor union says Nashville is one of the most dangerous places to work construction in the south.