Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site



Clemco Industries Corp.

Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Drowning Attributed to Lack of Safety Measures

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

More items for Health & Safety
More items from North America

Comment | More

As they hand the investigation over to federal safety regulators, local authorities released more information regarding an accident that left one painter dead Nov. 4 after falling from a Kingsbury, NY, bridge.

The Washington County Sherriff’s Office now says it believes the painting crew had completed its work and was in the process of dismantling a work platform when the accident occurred, Albany CBS affiliate WRGB reported Dec. 23.

Although four painters were rescued, a fifth, later identified as Rahssan Smith, 41, of Albany, NY, drowned in 10 feet of water.

Officials further indicated that the platform’s safety features had already been disassembled at the time of the incident, according to statements from those on the scene.

Platform Collapse

As reported earlier, painters employed by Avon, NY, bridge preservation firm P.S. Bruckel Inc., which had been contracted by the New York State Department of Transportation, were working on the Smiths Basin Bridge on Route 149, about 50 miles north of Albany, when a scaffold platform underneath it failed, spilling five workers into the Champlain Canal.

First responders pulled four of the workers from the water shortly after arrival, but Smith remained missing for approximately 90 minutes before his body was recovered from an area directly beneath the bridge.

At the time, preliminary investigations indicated one of the cables securing the platform to the bridge structure had come loose or broken, causing the platform to list suddenly, sending the workers into the canal.

Safety Measures Dismantled

Recent reports suggest that the project was complete, but the workers failed to take appropriate safety measures while in the process of taking down their equipment, according to The Post-Star.

“They were dismantling it, and from what we gathered somebody made a mistake and dismantled some safety measures that shouldn’t have been,” said Tony LeClaire, senior investigator for the sheriff’s office.

“We’re not sure how, but one of the cables either released or broke and sent all of the metal sheets (platform) tipping and they fell into the water.”

LeClaire noted that the team’s safety protocol required them to wear life jackets; Smith was not wearing one at the time of the accident, and it remains unclear whether the other painters were appropriately outfitted.

Moreover, they were supposed to be attached to a different cable for safety, he said.

“Our understanding is they were supposed to be wearing life preservers working over water,” LeClaire explained.

“I think they were trying to break it down quickly and overlooked some safety things.”

Investigation Handover

The sheriff’s office said that no criminal charges will be filed as a result of the accident.

Its preliminary findings are being handed over to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration for its ongoing investigation.

No additional findings have been released.


Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Bridges; Contractors; Department of Transportation (DOT); Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Safety; Scaffolding; Work platform

Comment from MICHAEL DEATON, (1/4/2017, 5:35 PM)

RIP Mr. Smith....looks like another typical situation of taking short cuts when down rigging. To have an issue where you tilt your entire platform enough to dump 5 men into the drink is totally unexceptable and wrong on so many levels. Prayers for the family!

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Bullard Made in the USA

Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corp.
Hurricane Vacuums
& Dust Collectors
Vacuum and dust collector hose, filters and related accessories.

SABRE Autonomous Solutions
The ALPHA1 provides reliable results consistently allowing you to cost your next job with confidence.

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
QUALITY MADE IN AMERICA —Available near you!
CLICK to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Tarps Manufacturing makes the highest-quality tarps right here in the USA — available nationwide.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Portable Dust Collectors for Tough Environments
Trailer and skid-mounted models in numerous sizes, powered by electric and/or diesel. Sloped roofs, multiple dust inlets, high static, dampered fans. Lockable power & drive compartments.

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office
KTA-Tator EH&S Services
• Ambient & Worker Exposure Air Monitoring
• Safety & Health Program Development
• Lead Paint Assessments
& Specifications
• Health Hazard & Jobsite Safety Assessments
Call 1-800-532-3633

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800

Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America
Performance Amine 1,3-BAC
A highly reactive cycloaliphatic diamine offering superior performance. Reasonable cost and curing efficacy makes it suitable for all types of epoxy resin applications.

Sky Climber, LLC
Solutions in Suspended Access
Safely reach workspaces regardless of size or purpose with our full line of Hoists, modular Platforms, and versatile Workcages.


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us