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Operator Faces Charges in CA Crane Fall

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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The crane operator on a California bridge construction site where two workers were killed in 2014 now faces charges of manslaughter and occupational safety violations in relation to the incident.

Mark Powell was operating a crane on a bridge construction project in Winters, CA, on May 30, 2014, when two other workers, one of whom was Powell’s son, fell from a basket suspended by the crane. Marcus Zane Powell, 25, and Glenn Hodgson, 49, both died as a result of the 80-foot fall.

Safety Violations

In November 2014, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited the contractor, Disney Construction, of Burlingame, CA, for several serious violations in relation to the incident, fining the company $106,110.

According to Cal/OSHA, the crew was using the crane to perform repairs on a second crane, which was being used as a pile driver on the site where the new Winters Bridge was being constructed. A cable that Hodgson and Marcus Powell were reattaching to the second crane became caught, and as a result, the basket the two men were in fell 80 feet to the ground.

Disney Construction, which is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday (Jan. 3).

Four Felony Counts

According to the Sacramento Bee, Mark Powell was arraigned Dec. 21 by the Yolo County District Attorney’s office on two charges of involuntary manslaughter and two charges of violating occupational safety or health standards causing death, also a felony. The Bee reports that Mark Powell was one of three supervisors on the site that day, where a crew of 10 was working.

Winters Bridge construction
Town of Winters, via Youtube

A temporary bridge had been installed while the crews worked on constructing the permanent replacement structure over Putah Creek.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation alleged that the crane that Mark Powell operated that day was not certified or visually inspected to meet safety standards, the operator failed to perform an unmanned trial run, and there was no trained, qualified signal person assisting with the lift.

The crane the men were suspended from was nearly 40 years old, and had a number of mechanical deficiencies found by inspectors after the incident, according to Cal/OSHA. The safety latch on the hook holding the basket was reportedly not functional.

$15 Million Bridge Replacement

The work was part of a $15 million job reconstructing the bridge, which spans Putah Creek. The old bridge had been demolished, and a temporary bridge had been installed while the crews worked on constructing the permanent replacement structure. The new bridge opened in May 2016.

According to local media reports, Powell will go before a judge on Feb. 28 to set a trial date.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Cranes; Criminal acts; Health & Safety; North America; Safety; Violations

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