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NC Bridge Painter Suffers Fatal Fall

Thursday, September 1, 2016

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A worker on a bridge painting project in North Carolina fell to his death early Tuesday (Aug. 30), according to local media reports.

Filgonio Bravo Perez was reportedly part of a crew working on blasting and painting the State Route 127 bridge over the Catawba River near Lake Hickory in Hickory, NC, when he fell just before 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. He went missing in the water and his body was recovered Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 p.m., according to the Hickory Fire Department.

Safety Harness Detached

Early reports from the scene indicate that Perez was not wearing a flotation device, and that while he was wearing a safety harness, the harness was not hooked up. A coworker told FOX 46 that he and Perez had unhooked their harnesses while moving along a platform on the jobsite.

Coworkers reportedly attempted to dive into the water to rescue Perez but were unsuccessful.

The Hickory Fire Department was assisted in the recovery efforts by several other organizations, including a dive team from Charlotte. Local media reports note that obstacles, including parts of older bridges submerged in the water nearby, added to the complexity of rescue and recovery efforts.

About the Contractor

Perez was part of a crew that officials have said worked for Astron General Contracting, a painting firm out of the Jacksonville, NC, that was contracted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have any record of past safety violations by the firm.

Hickory Fire Department, via Facebook

The Hickory Fire Department was assisted in the recovery efforts by several other organizations, including a dive team from Charlotte.

A representative of Astron who answered the phone Wednesday (Aug. 31) declined to comment.

According to reports, Perez was 28 years old and a native of Guatemala.

Other Bridge Falls

Last year, 24-year-old James Pigue was killed while performing abrasive blasting on the Eads Bridge, on the Mississippi River in St. Louis, when a towboat hit the scaffolding he was working from. In that case, the company operating the towboat immediately filed a motion to be cleared of any liability; a judge denied that motion earlier this year. No other legal matters related to the case have been resolved.

Pigue's employer, Thomas Industrial Coatings, was issued one "serious" violation by OSHA in relation to the incident, but as part of an informal settlement, the violation was deleted from the company's record.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Asia Pacific; Blasting; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fall protection; Health & Safety; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Painting Contractors; Transportation

Comment from Jeffrey Morgan, (9/1/2016, 9:56 AM)

Un-hooked without a safety railing? No horizontal cable to clip to? No flotation vest over water? It looks to be 12 feet above the water, easy to be complacent. Sad.

Comment from Car F., (9/1/2016, 11:00 AM)

Double-hook lanyards are normally used when travelling between points in areas where a horizontal life line is not practical to install. Good training and stringent supervision ensures vigilance and compliance. Heartfelt condolences for the family, friends and relatives in this trying hour. A sad day for the trade when another fellow worker dies ahead of his time.

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