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Metro legislation aims for construction industry changes in wake of 16-year-old’s death

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Gustavo Ramirez was supposed to turn 17 on March 2, 2021.

Instead, his family said they will celebrate his birthday in a cemetery after he was killed after falling 11 stories on a construction site last June.

A series of News4 Investigations found even the main contractor on the site was unaware he had been hired and how Ramirez ultimately came to do specific work on the site despite federal regulations.

“On what would have been his 17th birthday, we stand before you broken due to the loss of our baby,” said Jennifer Enamorado, Ramirez’s sister.

On what would've been the birthday of a 16-year-old who plunged to his death on a Nashville construction site last summer, family members and Metro Council members are introducing legislation to make changes in the construction industry in Nashville.

Enamorado joined activists and Metro Council members in supporting legislation to ultimately hold the construction industry accountable for unsafe worksites.

“For far too long, Nashville has been one of the deadliest cities to work in. This legislation aims to change that,” said Metro Councilmember Sandra Sepulveda.

The legislation is designed to add workers to the city’s procurement standard board and block companies from earning future contracts if they’ve had workplace violations in the past three years.

It also aims to encourage contractors to commit to safe workplace practices, including creating incentives for OSHA training and to guarantee essential standards for safe worksites, mandating bathrooms and hand-washing stations at all worksites.

“We’ve heard not enough facilities to wash your hands. We’ve had COVID outbreaks in several construction sites, and that’s just unacceptable,” said Sepulveda.

Eric Coons, president of the Nashville Building Trades Council, said contractors should not fear the legislation as it aims to make their workplaces safer.

“Too little too late for too long. That ends today,” said Coons.

The legislation comes after the state levied fines on two subcontractors in the wake of Ramirez’ death.

 
 
 

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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