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Walsh Appeals Fine in Bridge Death

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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A Chicago builder is appealing a $10,000 fine imposed in the death of an employee who was crushed to death in a lift on a $131 million Indiana bridge rehab project.

The victim’s brother had likened the size of the fine to “buying a Coke.”

 

 The $131 million project to replace the Milton Madison Bridge over the Ohio River began in 2011.

 miltonmadisonbridgeproject.com

Work on replacing the Milton Madison Bridge over the Ohio River began in 2011.

Walsh Construction has notified the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the company’s intention to appeal the two citations and fine in the death of lift operator Roger Lee Cox, 50, IOSHA spokesman Robert Dittmer said Wednesday (Aug. 22).

The citations and penalties will remain on hold while the case goes to Indiana’s Board of Safety Review.

Lack of Training Cited

The death of Cox, 50, on the Milton-Madison Bridge was the second death of a Walsh Construction worker in two weeks and came a week after a safety-related shutdown on a third Walsh project.

Cox died May 3, three days after he was found, unconscious, pinned between his aerial lift basket and bridge beam 68 feet in the air. Walsh Construction is the contractor on the Milton-Madison Bridge project, which is rebuilding the bridge that connects Milton, KY, and Madison, IN, over the Ohio River.

IOSHA accused Walsh Construction of two serious violations in the case. The agency said the company had not adequately trained Cox and had not ensured that employees working around scaffolding knew how to control or minimize those hazards. IOSHA said Cox was not familiar with the use and limitations of the aerial lift. IOSHA said the company corrected the violations.

Walsh has declined to comment on the cases.

Appeals Process

The appeals process can take many months, Dittmer explained.  Generally, the process involves the appointment of an Administrative Law Judge to hear the case. Parties are allowed to present materials and witnesses.

The judge then renders a recommended ruling on the case to the Board, which either approves the recommendation or restarts the process. Cases typically take about six months, but they can take longer, depending upon the complexity of the issues, Dittmer said.

Troubled Projects

Cox was injured exactly two weeks after a highway worker employed by Walsh’s office in Crown Point, IN, was struck and killed by an excavator on a job site in Northeast Indianapolis. David Anderson, 33, was pinned against concrete barriers that he was placing near a highway ramp, authorities said. That incident remains under investigation.

Anderson was killed one week after work resumed on another Walsh bridge project that had been plagued by accidents.

In that case, the Connecticut Department of Transportation ordered work suspended for a week on the Moses Wheeler Bridge while workers attended safety classes. That order followed what Connecticut DOT called the fourth “completely preventable” accident in several months on the $230 million project.

In the latest incident, a crane collapsed at the site, leaving a worker with broken ribs and a concussion.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Construction; Fall protection; Health and safety; OSHA; Worker training

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