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Bridge Mishap Leaves Painters Hanging

Thursday, June 6, 2013

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Two bridge painters can thank their fall protection for saving their lives after a support platform gave way and left them dangling from the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in New York.

The workers were able to pull themselves to safety on their harnesses and walk away unscathed after the harrowing episode May 21.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Submitted photo

The two workers dangled over the Hudson River until they were able to pull themselves back up their safety harnesses to safety. OSHA is investigating.

Despite the happy ending, authorities want to know what happened, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident.

Containment Construction

The New York State Bridge Authority said that the men had been working on the underside of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge when temporary supports collapsed, leaving them hanging from their safety harnesses high over the Hudson River.

The workers had been stringing steel cables to support a containment system for the painting project, officials said.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
New York State Bridge Authority

Kiska Construction-USA is rebuilding the deck of the bridge's southern span.

According to OSHA, the workers were employed by Kiska Construction - USA, which received a $93 million contract in January to rebuild the deck of the bridge's southern span.

Kiska USA, a division of Kiska Construction Corp. of Ankara, Turkey, is a general construction and industrial painting contractor.

Kiska did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday (June 5).

About the Bridge

At 7,800 feet long, the Newburgh-Beacon (officially, the Hamilton Fish Newburgh-Beacon Bridge) is the busiest of the five bridges operated by the state bridge authority, which is also investigating the accident.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
New York State Bridge Authority

Nearly 8,000 feet long, the Newburgh-Beacon is the busiest of five bridges operated by the New York State Bridge Authority.

About 25 million vehicles cross the articulated deck truss bridge each year.

The bridge's north span, which opened in 1963 at a cost of $19.5 million, is 7,855 feet long. The south span, which opened in 1980 at a cost of $93.6 million, is 7,789 feet long.

Tradition has it that Native Americans regularly crossed the Hudson River at the point between what is now Beacon and Newburgh, long before Europeans arrived in America.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Containment; Fall protection; OSHA; Painting Contractor; Steel

Comment from Chuck Benesch, (6/6/2013, 7:32 AM)

A contractor from Turkey? Seems to me that there are enough contractors here in the states that could use the "stimulus" money.

Comment from Mike McCloud, (6/6/2013, 8:50 AM)

It is bad enough that states hire contractors from outside their own states. Now we are hiring from outside the country? This just screws our economy some more. Or is this some deal to bail Turkey out?

Comment from M. Halliwell, (6/6/2013, 11:27 AM)

Kiska USA, based in Long Island, NY. Sure, the parent company (Kiska Construction Corporation) is from Turkey...but I doubt they brought in a Turkish crew for this work. Don't get too upset that there is a parent company elsewhere...It'd be like being up in arms because BP (British Petroleum) is drilling oil and marketing Castrol in the US ;)

Comment from Mike McCloud, (6/7/2013, 7:39 AM)

Point well taken...

Comment from Karen Fischer, (6/7/2013, 10:17 AM)

Perhaps I don't understand what is so "bad" about hiring contractors from outside their own States. All must comply with Federal Standards as well as comply with the Standard Specifications for the state in which they are to work. Most States today recognize/utilize SSPC or NACE standards for Bridge Painting or base their own Standard Specifications on same. If a contractor can successfully bid a project under competative bidding processes, it seems to me that is a good thing. I don't think any State will give unfair breaks to an out-of-state contractor. The local unions insure that locals will be offered employment....Prevailing wages must be paid by law on most Federal and State projects to my knowledge. From your statement, one would assume there is some kind of down side to out-of-state contractors. I'm just not seeing it. If an out-of-state contractor brings some of their regular crew (a core crew) to the project, they have to put their workers up in hotels and these workers buy food, do laundry, find entertainment, shop etc;. The company may also rent/buy equipmment locally to do the work. This all put money INTO

Comment from Karen Fischer, (6/7/2013, 10:18 AM)

the local economy.

Comment from Brad Wilder, (6/7/2013, 10:42 AM)

Also, limiting projects to local contractors (or similarly having local preference provisions for award of contracts) reduces competition. This drives up prices which the taxpayers then pay for either in more expensive construction projects or in other projects that then can't be constructed due to lack of funding. Say for example that a state has a 5% local preference for awarding contracts, which is common. This means that any local contractor can bid 5% more than the going market rate for the work and still get the job. Taxpayers have to foot this bill. The hidden side is that non-local contractors then also have a disincentive to bid on these agencies projects, knowing that they will have to come in more than 5% under the local bidders to get the work. Many would rather just go elsewhere, decreasing competition on those bids and making it less likely that the agencies gets bidders at the actual market rate for the work. It should be noted that agencies are generally not allowed to use local preference on Federal Aid projects. A project of this size and scope very often has fed aid money involved, although this particular one did not to my knowledge. It did have a project labor agreement with the local construction trades, which is a whole other can of worms for another day.

Comment from Billy Russell, (6/7/2013, 3:41 PM)

Notice the cables hanging down, left side collapsed during construction, Really regardless of where the parent company is from, who is inspecting this deck being built ??????? who signed off on the anchor points???? who is in charge of building this are questions we should be asking......... Just saying

Comment from shane hirvi, (6/10/2013, 8:34 AM)

On the bright side we aren't reading a story about two bridge painters who died in a fall.

Comment from Karen Fischer, (6/11/2013, 1:53 PM)

There is always increased risk during the containment erection process. You have to keep in mind that someone has to engage in somewhat "risky practices" to get the first safety cable inplace to tie off well as some aspects of the containment itself. Until the investigation is complete, we won't know for sure what actually happened. Let's not point fingers until we know. The up side is that, for once, there was a favorable outcome and not a funeral.

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