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Demolition Crew Fights OSHA Citations

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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A Pennsylvania contractor who was charged with two serious violations for workplace safety violations during a partial bridge collapse is contesting its citations.

Francis J. Palo Inc., of Clarion, PA, is contesting the $9,800 fines it received Dec. 3, 2015, from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to multiple media sources.

Bridge Collapse

The contractor was hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to dismantle and rebuild the 103-year-old North Broad Street in Ridgway, Elk County, according to The Morning Call in Allentown, PA. However, three workers were injured—none seriously, the media outlet said—when part of the northbound side collapsed on June 18 of last year.

According to the daily newspaper, Palo president Paul Roman declined to comment on the alleged violations until the fines become final.

 

Additionally, PennDOT completed its own investigation into the partial collapse. However, The Bradford (PA) Era requested the agency’s investigation in September through a Right-to-Know Request and received a refusal from PennDOT, according to PennLive.com.

The news sources say that the engineering process Palo used was flawed and it did not take into account whether the bridge—which carries U.S. Route 219 and is known as the “Pennsy” Bridge—could support the weight of the equipment the company was using to renovate it.

Violation History

In its citations, OSHA said the company failed to have an engineering study performed by a competent person to ensure the framing floors could support the weight before demolition work started. The second violation states that the company did not determine that the floors or working surfaces were not strong enough to support the 101,800-pound excavator that was parked on the bridge.

An OSHA spokeswoman said Palo notified the Erie, PA, OSHA Area Office on Dec. 24 that it would contest the violations.

“Further attempts at settlement will be made over the next 45 days,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be forwarded to the department’s Region III Solicitors Office for potential litigation.”

According to OSHA records, the Francis J. Palo Inc. has been inspected 11 times in the past five years. Several of those citations have led to citations for serious violations and corresponding fines, the records indicate.

A video captured the partial collapse of the "Pennsy" Bridge in Elk County, PA, in June 2015. The contractor who was performing demolition has contested the citations it received for failing to create a safe working environment when the bridge collapsed.

Although media reports differ on the extent of the injuries and the cause of the collapse, all indicate that the men who were injured have recovered.

Rising Waters

PennLive also indicates that the collapse happened just a little more than a year after historic flooding occurred in May 2014. Elk Creek, which runs below the bridge, had reached near-record levels at that time, the news sources said. The media group also said it remains unclear if the high water had anything to do with the collapse.

Ridgway is about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh.

About the Company

According to its website, Francis J. Palo Inc. provides construction services to federal, state and municipal governments, as well as private organizations. Its list of services includes clearing and grubbing; building demolition; excavating and concrete grading; rigid pavement; rest area structures; cement concrete structures; culverts and single-span bridges; pile driving; and multispan and large structures.

The company also indicates it has been in business for 50 years.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Contractors; Department of Transportation (DOT); DOT; Ethics; Government; Government contracts; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Roads/Highways; Safety

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