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Bridge Contractor Cited in Teen's Death

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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A 16-year-old worker who was directed to stand in a crane hazard area without a hardhat was too young to be on the job that took his life, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

Tristin James Wood, 16, of Marquand, MO, was killed instantly June 14, 2014, when he was struck by the boom of a crane that was being dismantled by Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading Division, of Poplar Bluff, MO.

Family, via Wayne County Journal Banner

An OSHA official called the death of Tristin James Wood “a tragic death involving a teenager who should not have been allowed to work on the job site."

The company was replacing a county-owned bridge over the Old Whitewater Channel at the time, and the crane was operated by a relative of Wood's, the Southeast Missourian reported. A witness saw the crane malfunction, break and strike the youth, the newspaper said.

The bridge project began in 2012.

Kids on the Work Site

OSHA has cited Robertson Incorporated for 13 serious safety violations, carrying a total of $44,730 in fines.

In addition, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has fined the contractor $11,000 for violating Hazardous Order Number 7, which prohibits minors under age 18 from operating or assisting in the operation of power-driven hoists. Children under 18 also may not be employed in any occupation that the Department of Labor has deemed hazardous.

According to OSHA, 160,000 American children suffer occupational injuries every year, including 54,800 who require emergency-room treatment.

“This is a tragic death involving a teenager who should not have been allowed to work on the job site," said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis.

Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading

Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading, of Poplar Bluff, MO is a heavy and civil contractor with 40 years of experience and a portfolio of projects from five states.

In a statement emailed (March 2), the company said: "We are still in negotiations with OSHA regarding this incident and have no further comment at this time."

OSHA Citations

The 13 serious OSHA citations include:

  • Lack of posted storage building loads;
  • Lack of guard rails around open-sided platforms;
  • Lack of a lockout/tagout program and training for machinery maintenance;
  • Lack of fire training and use of uninspected fire extinguishers;
  • Machine guarding lapses;
  • Lack of inspections by a competent person of the job site, materials and equipment;
  • Lack of inspections and training procedures for work around cranes;
  • Lack of a hardhat or training for the victim;
  • Lack of inspection records; and
  • Lack of warning or control lines to mark the hazard area.

OSHA found that the crane operator was unaware that the teenager had been told to stand in an inadequately marked danger zone.

Serious violations carry "substantial probability" of death or serious injury from a hazard that an employer knew, or should have known, about.


OSHA has extensive regulations and standards regarding Cranes & Derricks in Construction.

Robertson Incorporated Bridge and Grading is a heavy and highway contractor that works in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. The company says it has more than 40 years of experience and specializes in bridges, site work, treatment plants and other large projects.

About Tristin

Tristin Wood is survived by his parents, grandparents, brother and sister, and his teammates, the Greenville Bears, the Wayne County Journal-Banner reported. Greenville, the county seat of Wayne County, is a town of about 500.

"Tristin was of the Christian faith and loved basketball and deer hunting," the article said.

McDonald said his employer "has a responsibility to train workers in hazards, adequately mark hazardous operations areas and provide competent supervision and protective equipment."

"Clearly," he added, "the law prohibits children from being involved in the disassembly of heavy-duty construction machinery."

This article was updated at 8:19 a.m. ET March 3, 2015, to correct the date of the incident.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Cranes; Enforcement; Fall protection; Fatalities; Government contracts; Industrial Contractors; North America; OSHA; Program/Project Management; Worker training

Comment from Chuck Pease, (3/3/2015, 4:15 PM)

Lack of........???? Certainly no lack of greed and trying to save a buck...... Off with their heads...... Shut them down OSHA. Put some teeth in your bark!!! 44 k..... Really??? Now compare that to the earnings and loss of life. So young....... Damn

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