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Painter Injured on DE Bridge Project

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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A painter was injured in a fall from a Delaware bridge over the weekend, but details about the fall—particularly the distance—remain unclear.

An employee of Cherry Hill, NJ-based Allied Painting Inc., Julio Rivera, 40, was injured about 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Sept. 14) while painting the substructure of the Delaware-bound span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the bridge's owner, Delaware River and Bay Authority, reported.

According to DRBA, Rivera was painting under the roadway deck between the tower and the anchorage when he fell and became trapped on the lower catwalk. Authorities described it as a "short fall" and said Rivera was "conscious, alert, and attempting to speak with paramedics."

Jim Salmon, spokesman for DRBA, was not sure of the exact distance of the fall, he told PaintSquare News on Monday (Sept. 16).

Delaware Memorial Bridge
Delaware River and Bridge Authority

An Allied Painting employee was injured while working on the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Saturday (Sept. 14). Details were unclear, with initial reports indicating that he fell a short distance, while the company says it was a "same level" fall.

He suffered injuries to his wrist, arm and abdomen and was taken to Christiana Care Medical Center for treatment, DRBA reported. Rivera was treated and released, Salmon said on Monday.

Allied Painting's Account

However, Jim Cannon, owner of Allied Painting, and Bobby Stathakopoulos, project manager for Allied Painting, said that Rivera fell at the same level he was working on.

Rivera was working from the catwalk, pulling something with a rope, when the rope broke and he fell against the guardrail, bruising his ribs and knocking the wind out of himself, Cannon and Stathakopoulos told PaintSquare News on Monday.

According to Stathakopoulos, the catwalk has handrails, midrails and toe boards in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. He said that the OSHA standards do not mandate personal fall protection with the guardrail system in place.

OSHA is investigating the incident, a spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

Delaware River and Bay Authority police officers, numerous fire and EMS units, and the New Castle County Technical High Angle Rescue team responded to the accident, DRBA reported.

Two lanes of traffic were closed during the incident but reopened by 11:45 a.m., authorities said.

OSHA railings

OSHA standards require railings and toeboards for open-sided floors, walkways, platforms and runways.

Allied Painting was awarded two contracts in 2010, with a combined value of $2,853,600, to clean and recoat steel surfaces on the west girder spans of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The 3,650-foot-long suspension bridge connects Delaware and New Jersey with two suspension spans over the Delaware River. The bridge is a memorial to soldiers who gave their lives in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

Past OSHA Inspections

Allied Painting has been previously inspected and cited by OSHA, including seven serious violations totaling $25,200 in penalites in 2011, according to OSHA records. The violations included fire protection, rigging equipment for material handling, electrical requirements, wiring design and protection and wiring methods.

In 2009, OSHA said, the company paid $3,200 in penalties for one serious violation regarding lead and one other-than-serious violation for respiatory protection. Allied Painters was also cited and penfor one other-than-serious fixed ladder violation in 2008.

In 2004, an Allied Painting employee fell 15 feet into the Delaware River while working on the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge. The worker was not seriously injured.

"There was fall protection on site this morning, including a safety harness which [the worker] was wearing," Linda Spalinski, spokeswoman for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, told The Philadelphia Inquirer after that incident.

However, since the worker was near the bridge abutment and "preparing to move onto land, he moved off the harness and slipped," Spalinksi said.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Contractors; Fall protection; OSHA; Subcontractors

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