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Painter’s Death Halts Bridge Work

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

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The death of a bridge painter has shut down work on two Rhode Island bridges, pending a state safety review, authorities announced.

David Dupee, 45, was performing steel painting and repair work on the Mount Hope Bridge when he fell about 70 feet from scaffolding at 8:30 a.m. July 23, authorities said. Emergency personnel transported him to Rhode Island Hospital, where he died a few hours later.

Dupee worked for TDA Construction Inc., of Tarrytown, NY. TDA is a subcontractor of Aetna Bridge Co. of Warwick, RI, the general contractor for work now underway on both the Mount Hope and Newport Pell Bridges.

Review Ordered

After Dupee's death, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority suspended work indefinitely on both bridges "out of an abundance of caution," according to a July 23 statement. Work will resume later, "pending a review of safety procedures and requirements," the authority said.

Mount Hope Bridge death
Photos: Aetna Bridge

After subcontractor David Dupee died while working from the Mount Hope Bridge, the bridge authority closed it and another one of the contractor's bridges until an updated safety plan is provided and approved.

Both bridges remain open to traffic.

Mount Hope Bridge is a two-lane, 6,130-foot-long suspension bridge spanning the Mount Hope Bay in Rhode Island. TDA is repairing the steel and repainting the bridge, according to the Providence Journal.

New Safety Plan Required

Neither Aetna Bridge nor TDA Construction could be reached for comment Monday (Aug. 5).

Before work can continue on either bridge, RITBA is requiring an updated safety plan from Aetna Bridge because the company has a maintenance contract with the state, The Jamestown Press reported on Thursday (Aug. 1).

While RITBA expects a new safety plan within the week, the bridge authority will have to review it and decide if it is acceptable before work can resume, the newspaper said.

RITBA expressed condolences on Dupee's death but declined to comment on the report.

Aetna Bridge

An OSHA investigation will determine if more than one company is at fault after a subcontractor fell 70 feet to his death while performing painting and repair work.

"On behalf of the board of directors and employees of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the worker's family, friends, colleagues and loved ones for their loss," David Darlington, chairman of RITBA, said in a statement.

Ongoing OSHA Investigation

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident. The investigation may take up to six months, said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's Rhode Island area director. A compliance officer is at the site working on the investigation, Griffin added.

It is possible that multiple employers could be found responsible for safety violations, Griffin told The Jamestown Press. Investigators will have to determine which employer or employers is responsible for the hazard.

Aetna Bridge was cited by OSHA several times in the last decade, including fall hazard violations in 2012, 2009, and 2007.

A search of TDA Construction's OSHA record returned no other results.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Hazards; OSHA; Steel; Subcontractors

Comment from Billy Russell, (8/6/2013, 4:29 AM)

Prayers to our Brothers family...

Comment from Rick Ravenscraft, (8/6/2013, 7:41 AM)

Such a tragic loss. My heart and prayers go out to Dave's family.

Comment from William Feliciano, (8/7/2013, 10:18 AM)

This is a big loss to everyone in this industry. More has to be done, on all sides, to prevent such accidents from occuring. Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Dupee.

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