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2nd PA Bridge Painter Killed in Fall

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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Deer Isle Sedgwick Bridge

Authorities are investigating the death of a New Jersey painter who perished in a fall Sunday from the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge in Maine, where he was working.

Ercio Gasques, 29, of Newark, NJ, was the second employee of Odyssey Contracting, of Houston, PA, to die in a bridge fall in the last 14 months.

Gasques was working on the bridge in eastern Maine when he fell about 2:15 p.m. Sunday, according to the Hancock Count Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene.

40-Foot Fall

“Gasques suffered massive head trauma from the fall and died from his injuries while en route to the hospital,” reported Lt. Tim Cote of the Sheriff’s Department.

Details of the accident remained sketchy Tuesday (Dec. 7), as a snowstorm after the accident dumped 18 inches of snow on the area, rendering it temporarily inaccessible, said Bill Coffin, area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating.

News reports said Gasques fell 40 feet from the bridge and landed on rocks. There was no information about what he had been doing or what type of fall protection he had.

Previous Citations, Fatality

Odyssey Contracting has been cited before on the Deer Isle bridge project. In August, OSHA issued a single serious citation to the company for transporting a crew of four in the back of a pickup truck to and from the work site, Coffin said. The citation carried a proposed penalty of $1,500.

In October 2009, another painter for Odyssey Contracting (also known as Odyssey Painting Co.) fell 124 feet to his death while working on the McKees Rock Bridge in McKees Rock, PA. Michael L'Hereaux, 54, of Ohio was conducting abrasive blasting under the Pittsburgh end of the bridge and fell from a two-point suspension scaffold.

The scaffold gave way when L'Hereaux accidentally turned his blast equipment on a cable that was holding the scaffold, an OSHA investigation later found.

The blast medium cut through the cable. L'Hereaux had been issued a safety harness but was not wearing it at the time, an OSHA spokeswoman said Tuesday.

In that case, the company eventually admitted to five citations (reduced from six) and a fine of $12,600 (reduced from $16,800) after an informal settlement with OSHA.

Stavros Semanderes, owner of Odyssey Contracting, did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.

Odyssey is working under a $9,348,250 contract by the Maine Department of Transportation to recoat the suspension bridge, which was built in 1939. The bridge spans Eggemoggin Reach and features a 1,088-foot-long main span. The contract also includes performing various repairs.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Contractors; Fall protection; Health and safety; Protective coatings

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (12/8/2010, 8:04 AM)

Cable from suspended scaffolding needs to be protected from possible damage from the work activity. In this case the risk was from abrasive blasting material but also could include welding, cutting, hydroblasting, etc.


Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (12/8/2010, 8:06 AM)

A risk assessment should have been performed prior to this activity to identify all potiential hazards with the work. Obviousely risk assessments are not part of this organizations safety program.


Comment from William Sowers, (12/8/2010, 12:09 PM)

Was there a 3rd party inspector on this job???


Comment from David Grove, (12/8/2010, 3:17 PM)

I agree with Mr. Van Hooser's comment because if there was a review that identified the possibility of the cables being cut by work activities, then additional fall protection should have been specified, along with protection for the cables. Taking the time to identify "What if's" on a JHA/JSA, then adjusting for them in the work process/control, does not equate to the cost of a life. I am curious why this was not identified as a process failure before the accident by OSHA.


Comment from Paul Pausch, (12/8/2010, 3:30 PM)

This is the exact reason why I enforce my Fall-Arrest System policy & conduct monthly safety meetings. 2 fall related deaths in less than 2 years that could have easily been avoided had it not been for negligence!


Comment from Rick Thomas, (12/9/2010, 11:27 AM)

This bridge will move in the wind. Remember the Tacoma Narrows Bridge? Same designer. Wing Wind Deflectors were installed on this bridge in the early 1990s for better subility in high winds. Scary bridge to even drive over. So sad.


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