| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free Specialty Function Coating Systems eResource Book

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Fatal Collapse of Bridge Trench Probed in PA

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Comment | More

Federal authorities are investigating the collapse of a trench during the repair of a newly built bridge in Allentown, PA, that killed one worker and injured another.

Michael Wilson, 20, of Coatesville, PA, died after the walls of the 6-foot-deep trench along the Linden Street Bridge collapsed at 8:40 a.m. EST Tuesday (Jan. 4) and partially buried him under huge chunks of concrete. 

Linden Street Bridge

Wilson’s co-worker and best friend, Otis Smother III, 21, also of Coatesville, was freed from the rubble within an hour and was recovering at an area hospital from bruises and a shoulder injury.

‘Together at the End’

The men worked for construction contractor J.D. Eckman Inc., of Atglen, PA, a family-owned company founded in 1945. The company built the bridge, which opened in April 2009, and was making repairs at the time of the accident.

The company did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Wilson’s parents, Rick and Shirley Wilson, told a local television station that the men had been best friends since seventh grade and had started work for Eckman on the same day.

“They were together at the end,” Shirley Wilson said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, said Jane Kulp, director of OSHA’s Allentown office. “The intent is to determine what happened,” she said, noting that OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation.

Allentown Assistant Fire Chief Lee Laubach told reporters that the ground had caved in, but authorities do not know why.

New Bridge Repair

At the time of the collapse, the men were working to replace an electrical and communications duct bank on the west side of the bridge, said Lehigh County Capital Projects Director Glenn D. Solt.

“The duct installations they did were not proper according to specifications, so they had to come back out and redo them,” Solt said.

The local utility company discovered the problem shortly after the bridge opened, Solt said. “When the utility company went to use them, they weren’t adequate,” he said.

Eckman repaired the east side of the bridge in December, he said.

Solt said that the bridge project, awarded as a low bid, was Eckman’s first for the county and that construction had proceeded with “no significant glitches.”

OSHA Record

J.D. Eckman has a record of safety violations with OSHA. The agency has made 58 visits to Eckman work sites since 2001, all but five of them stemming from an OSHA enforcement program that selects various companies or industries for stepped-up inspections. (The other inspections were the result of referrals or complaints.)

Kulp could not say why Eckman’s sites had been chosen for inspection seven times in 2010, 14 times in 2009, eight times in 2008, and several dozen times before that.

Four of the 2009 inspections resulted in citations for violations, as did three inspections in 2008. Eckman was fined a total of about $18,500 for 11 violations, most of them serious. Several violations related to fall protection violations during bridge projects.


Tagged categories: Construction; Contractors; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

Sidewinder/Persyst Enterprises, Inc.
The Sidewinder Model M2 Solvent Recycler

Combat the rising cost of gunwash, thinners, acetone & more while drastically reducing waste disposal coat.

RPB Respiratory

With RPB Safety’s new Nova 3 Cassette Lens System which has been specifically designed to save you time and money! See the benefits for yourself now!

Polyurethane and Polyurea Sprayed-On Protection

Buy POLYURETHANE or POLYUREA coatings and spray equipment for years of proven chemical resistance, water- and weather-proofing, and structural improvements.

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip it, clean it, and profile it,
all dust free! High production
rates and Blast like finishes.
Comply with new lead

CS Unitec
Work Cleaner and Safer

CS Unitec’s Vibro-Lo low-vibration scalers offer high performance for greater productivity & improved operator comfort. Optional dust shroud.

US Minerals
US Minerals -
Black Magnum

With nationwide production and distribution capabilities, U.S. Minerals supplies a complete range of coal slag and other abrasives to meet all of your blasting needs.

Novetas Solutions
Number 1 Crushed Glass Abrasive in America!

Manufactured from 100% Recycled Glass.
NO Crystalline Silica,
Beryllium & Arsenic
Great White Metal Finish!
4 plants on Navy QPL
Call us at 866-775-6226

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox - One Step
Lead Abatement

Don't waste money on added labor steps with other methods. Don't mix, meter or apply at the job-site. Avoid strict hazardous waste rules.
Let your painters paint

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design 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   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail