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Worker injured

Billings fire, police and an AMR ambulance were on the scene after a worker was injured when he was struck by a falling concrete column at the Community Leadership & Development, Inc. housing project in the former Labor Temple at South 29th Street and 1st Avenue South Tuesday morning. The low income housing project is being completed with a $1.1 million grant from Greg Gianforte.

A construction worker died from his injuries Tuesday after a large concrete column broke free and hit him in the head at the former Labor Temple Hall at South 29th Street and First Avenue South.

The man had been standing under the column when it hit him in the head, Billings Police Sgt. Harley Cagle said at the scene.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the incident at about 8:30 a.m., and the man was unconscious as he was being loaded into an American Medical Response ambulance at the construction site.

In an email sent shortly before 5 p.m., Fisher Construction Inc. President Jim Berve said a worker "succumbed to his injuries."

The company wrote on its Facebook page: "We have extended our deepest sympathies to the family and are offering as much support to the family as they need to deal with the aftermath of this tragedy."

The company is investigating the incident.

Fisher Construction Inc. co-owner Brent Sumner confirmed Tuesday morning the man was an employee. Fisher Construction is the general contractor for the Community Leadership & Development Inc. housing project, which includes a renovation of portions of the historic building.

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The foreman at the scene declined to comment.

The construction crew did not appear to be working on the concrete column, which was part of the former Labor Temple Hall exterior, Cagle said.

"They were trying to remove it at some point, they'd chipped away at it, and it came down on its own," Cagle said after speaking with construction workers at the scene.

The man had been wearing a hard hat at the time, Cagle said.

The former Labor Temple Hall is being renovated as part of the low-income housing project, which was announced in November 2016. Construction began last summer, and is being completed with a $1.1 million grant from the Gianforte Family Foundation.

Traffic was partially blocked at the busy intersection Tuesday morning as police and medical personnel responded to the incident. Billings Fire Department also responded.

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of workplace injuries in Montana, which in 2016 had the fourth-highest overall workplace injury rate among U.S. states for which data was available.

The 2016 statewide rate was 4.2 injuries for every 100 full-time workers, compared with a nationwide rate of 2.9. Within the construction industry, Montana's injury rate was 4.9 per 100 full-time workers.

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