Indiana authorities are investigating the death of a bridge construction worker who was apparently crushed by a piece of equipment last Monday.
It was the second employee death in two weeks for Chicago-based Walsh Construction Group and the second recent Walsh bridge project to attract the attention of safety authorities.
Authorities said Roger Lee Cox, 50, of Austin, IN, was found unconscious April 30 at a construction site on the Milton-Madison Bridge, which carries US 421 over the Ohio River between Milton, KY, and Madison, IN. The 83-year-old bridge is being replaced.
|The bridge was to have closed for five days in late April to demolish the approach spans, but the job took only three days, as crews worked around the clock.|
Cox was taken by ambulance to Kings Daughters Hospital in Madison, IN, and then airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville, KY. He was taken off life support Thursday (May 3) and died the same day.
Details were few. Police said Cox had been working from a bucket when he was pinned between the bucket and the object he was working on, but it was not clear exactly what type of equipment he was using or what he was working on at the time.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Walsh Construction were investigating the accident.
IOSHA does not release details while investigations are underway; Walsh did not respond Monday (May 7) to a request for comment.
Other Project, Death Probed
Fox’s death occurred one week after work resumed on another Walsh bridge project that has been plagued by accidents.
In that case, work was suspended for a week on Connecticut’s Moses Wheeler Bridge while contractor employees attended safety classes. Connecticut’s DOT ordered the stoppage after a crane collapsed at the site, leaving a worker with broken ribs and a concussion—the fourth accident on the $230 million project in several months.
|Construction began in early 2011 to replace the bridge.|
The Moses Wheeler project has been ahead of schedule, and state authorities questioned whether worker fatigue had contributed to the accidents. Walsh says they did not, and those crews continue to work 10 hours on weekdays and eight hours on Saturdays.
Work is also proceeding quickly on the Milton-Madison Bridge. The bridge was supposed to be shut down for five days in April to demolish approach spans, but crews working around the clock finished the job in just three days and the bridge reopened ahead of schedule.
In a separate incident, a highway worker employed by Walsh’s office in Crown Point, IN, was fatally struck by an excavator April 16 at a work site in Northeast Indianapolis. David Anderson, 33, was pinned against concrete barriers that he was placing near a highway ramp, authorities said. Police believe the excavator’s operator lost track of where Anderson was standing when he moved the vehicle. That accident is also under investigation.
The Milton-Madison project involves project contractor Walsh and design firms Burgess & Niple Engineers of Columbus, OH, and Buckland and Taylor Ltd. of North Vancouver, BC.
Construction on the $131 million project began in early 2011. A new, 2,400-foot-long steel truss bridge will be built on temporary piers, then slid into place on top of the existing piers, which are being strengthened to meet modern standards, project officials say. Once complete, the new, wider bridge will lie within the footprint of the original bridge, which opened in 1929.