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OSHA Cites Firms Over KY Crane Collapse

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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A Kentucky construction firm is facing more than $20,000 in proposed fines in the wake of a crane collapse on a bridge project in February.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two “serious” violations to Walsh Construction Company and Vinci Construction, a joint venture that was overseeing the bridge replacement project where the incident took place.

On Feb. 19, a crane that was reportedly removing temporary supports from the East End Bridge in Louisville collapsed. High winds were immediately suspected as a factor in the collapse.

OSHA proposed $21,379 in fines on Thursday (Aug. 11); the companies have 15 business days from that day to contest the citation.

Two Violations

In the citation issued earlier this month, OSHA alleges that wind speeds were not properly considered and measured that day at the jobsite. “Employees were exposed to struck-by and crushing hazards when the [crane] was used without a working anemometer.”

In the second violation listed, the agency alleges that the crane “was operated outside of the manufacturer’s recommendations for boom angle.”

East End Bridge rendering
WVB East End Partners

The East End Bridge project aims to connect Louisville, KY, with Utica, IN. (Rendering shown.)

When the citation was first issued, a representative of WVB East End Partners Group, which includes Walsh and Vinci, told WDRB-TV, “WVB does not typically comment on such citations. That said, we continually strive to make our work zones safe for our employees and the public. Safety is our top priority.”

On Friday (Aug. 19), WDRB reported that federal officials alleged an anemometer on the jobsite had been broken since December 2015, and that company officials knew but did not replace it.

At that time, WVB’s Dan Hartlage told WDRB in a statement, “Working anemometers were on site and in use as required by OSHA.”

High Winds

According to WDRB, the protocol on the site at that time was for a worker on the barge containing the crane was to contact another worker for information about wind speeds. That worker was allegedly not at work the day of the incident, leaving the employee on the barge without crucial information about wind speed.

Winds were reportedly gusting up to 50 mph on the day of the collapse; the International Union of Operating Engineers told local media that the crane should have been shut down and lowered to half-height when winds reached over 30 mph.

No injuries were reported in the collapse, though according to local media, one worker had to jump into the river to avoid being hit by debris.

No Citation in Prior Incident

Walsh was not cited for a 2014 incident in Louisville in which three workers fell into the river while trying to retrieve a runaway boat; the employees involved in that event reportedly violated a well-known and appropriately communicated policy against straying from the immediate jobsite.

Walsh Construction Company is based in Chicago, IL, and has worked on numerous major bridge projects in the U.S. Vinci is a French company that has worked on major infrastructure projects worldwide.

The East End Bridge project aims to connect Louisville, KY, with Utica, IN. It’s part of a larger project to create more Ohio River crossings in the region. The bridge is projected to open to traffic later this year.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Industrial Contractors; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; OSHA; Program/Project Management; Safety

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