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2 Injured in AZ Bridge Project

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

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State health and safety officials are investigating an incident at an Arizona bridge and interchange construction site that left two workers injured.

A 60,000-pound steel-reinforced concrete bridge-support beam was being lifted into place Thursday (June 9) at the Surprise, AZ, work site when it dropped 40 feet, a local news outlet reported.

The girder was being lifted into place as part of an elevated roadway in a $41.9 million overpass project along Arizona’s U.S. 60 when it fell onto equipment and injured two crew members.

One man was critically injured after falling 40 feet in the accident; the other reportedly suffered only minor injuries. The names of the injured have not yet been released.

40-Foot Fall

At the time of the accident, two cranes were lifting the 150-foot girder in place as part of an overpass construction project, the Arizona Department of Public Transportation told the local ABC affiliate.

The critically injured worker "was on the pier cap to the east side of the girder and he was strapped to it and when that fell, he fell with it," said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel.

When emergency crews arrived on site at 10:05 that morning, they found a 26-year-old worker suffering severe trauma from the 40-foot fall.

He was still in his safety harness, although his tether had been cut, according to the Your West Valley news site.

The man was taken by helicopter to a local trauma center.

The beam reportedly fell onto a piece of heavy machinery, although that operator was not injured.

The other injured crew member was on a scissor lift at the time of the incident, and the beam reportedly struck his elbow when it fell. He was transported to an area hospital by ambulance.

Both men are said to be employed by general contractor Coffman Specialties Inc. of San Diego.

Train service running parallel to the construction zone was briefly stopped following the collapse; the intersection had been closed to vehicular traffic in April.

Project Progress Halted

The interchange project, which began earlier this year, is intended to reduce congestion at the intersection of Bell Road and Grand Avenue, said to be the area’s most heavily travelled. The new bridge, slated for completion in November, will divert Bell Road traffic over Grand Avenue and the railway tracks.

At this stage of construction, 65 steel-reinforced concrete support beams, produced off site, are being set on horizontal segments designed to distribute the weight for the three-section span to the support columns, the local news site said.

Earlier last week, 24 beams had been placed successfully.

According to ADOT, the contractor was in the process of adding 150-foot girders to a span crossing the railroad line on Thursday morning; the girder that fell was the sixth to be placed that day.

The beam was being lifted by a pair of cranes operated by Southwest Industrial Rigging of Phoenix, aided by personnel on top of the piers.

One of the cranes had released its end, but the beam was still held by the second crane at the time of the accident, according to Nintzel.

Workers in nearby businesses reported hearing the impact when the beam hit the ground, saying it felt like an earthquake.

A spokeswoman for the contractor told that the girder cracked in half while being lifted.

Nintzel confirmed that a portion of the girder remained suspended over the railway tracks by the crane to which it remained attached. That section of girder was removed from over the tracks later that day.

"We don't know what happened," Nintzel said.

The accident is under investigation by the ADOT and the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

"We’re going to focus right now on finding out what happened here," Nintzel said.

“Safety is our number-one priority,” he added. “We want to make sure something like this does not happen again. Our concerns are also with the (critically injured) worker and his family."




Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Cranes; Department of Transportation (DOT); Fall protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; North America; Roads/Highways; Safety; Transportation

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