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OSHA: Cable Ignored Before Collapse

Friday, November 15, 2013

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A Nashville contractor declined to replace a damaged cable on a crane before it collapsed, despite daily inspections showing replacement was needed, federal authorities say.

The collapse led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue citations and $60,900 in proposed penalties this week against Mountain States Contractors LLC, a general contractor in Nashville, TN.

Mountain States denied the allegations.

The citations consisted of one willful, one serious, and one other-than-serious safety violation related to the crane collapse in May during bridge work.

The crane's main boom cable broke, causing the crane to collapse, while workers were replacing the Highway 109 bridge over the Cumberland River in Tennessee.

Mountain States Contractors

OSHA hit Mountain States Contractors with $60,900 in proposed penalties after a crane collapsed in May, which OSHA says was not serviced.

"This employer willfully disregarded worker safety and allowed the crane to operate even though daily crane inspections indicated the cable needed replacement," William Cochran, OSHA's area director in Nashville, said in a press release.

"Replacement cable was available on-site, but the crane was not serviced. It's fortunate no one was killed or seriously injured in this incident," Cochran said.

The Citations

The willful violation, which carries $56,000 in proposed penalties, alleges that the employer failed to remove a damaged wire rope cable from operation. Willful violations are those that OSHA says are committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The serious safety violation, with $4,900 in proposed penalties, alleges failure to ensure that a deficiency noted on the annual inspection was checked on a monthly basis. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

Nashville crane collapse

The company "strongly dispute[s]" the allegations, calling them unfair in a statement to a local news channel.

The other-than-serious violation, which has no monetary penalties, was issued for failing to ensure workers wearing N95 respirators were provided training that included information in Appendix D of the respiratory protection standard

Company: 'Unfair' Description

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday (Nov. 14). According to, the company released the following statement:

"At Mountain States Contractors, our first priority is the safety of our employees and the public. We strongly dispute the allegation that there were any willful safety violations, and intend to appeal this preliminary citation.

"On the day of the accident, the crane operator told the company he had inspected the crane cable before operation and had found it met the standards for being in service. We believe any description of the accident as being the result of willful disregard of safety standards is in error and is unfair."

The company has 15 business days from receiving the citations to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings.

According to The Tennessean, Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health has conducted five accident investigations that involved worker deaths at Mountain States Contractors and Britton Bridge LLC, which previously shared an address with Mountain States.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Contractors; Cranes; Inspection; OSHA

Comment from Chuck Pease, (11/15/2013, 6:04 PM)

Love these articles tha make it appear OSHA is an enforcer. When will the day come when contractors are hit where it really hurts. Most of the time even when negligence and multiple deaths occur the fines are Chump change to the entities fined. And most of the time after all the headlines die down they are allowed to contest and negotiate the already small repercussions down to next to nothing. And coatings guys remember Cabin Creek?

Comment from ivor williams, (11/19/2013, 9:27 AM)

Chuck a prolific statement that spells out the lp service contractors pay to safety they should be banned from competing in any other bids for ten years.Know what they will bid with another subsidary and carry on

Comment from Chuck Pease, (11/19/2013, 7:42 PM)

Yup exactly what I'm talking about. All window dressing to make it appear AS IF.

Comment from Jeffrey Spatz, (11/20/2013, 7:05 AM)

There would appear to be more to the story. See the following link to the local news story about this incident and contractor:

Comment from Jeffrey Spatz, (11/20/2013, 7:11 AM)

I would imagine that the inevitable suit coming from the occupants of the vehicle that was involved in the incident will result in legal fees and settlements/awards that will surpass the OSHA fines.

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