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OSHA Cites FIU Pedestrian Bridge Firms

Friday, September 21, 2018

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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued the first citations related to last spring's bridge collapse at Florida International University, marking unsafe practices that were not likely direct contributors to the accident.

Among the companies cited are engineers and contractors that designed and built the bridge, including designer FIGG Bridge Engineers and builder Munilla Construction Management.

Citations Issued

OSHA cited five companies for seven violations, all of which are described as “serious,” related to worker safety; all fines together add up to $86,658 in proposed penalties. Those hit by the citations also included Bolton Perez & Associates, a firm that provided engineering and inspection services for the project; Structural Technologies, a company that specializes in bridge-specific post-tensioning work; and the Structural Group of South Florida, which is not connected to Structural Technologies.

National Transportation Safety Board

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued the first citations related to the bridge collapse at Florida International University, marking unsafe practices that were not likely direct contributors to the accident.

OSHA’s findings determined that the companies failed to protect workers when indications of a collapse were evident. Violations included: exposing employees to fall and crushing hazards, as well as allowing multiple employees to connect to an improperly installed lifeline. FIGG and Bolton Perez were each cited for failing to evacuate their workers from the bridge, which had begun to develop cracks before it was swung into place.

“Collectively, these employers failed to take appropriate action and provide the necessary protections to their employees while they were working on the bridge on the day it collapsed,” said OSHA regional administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer.

All five companies have 15 business days to respond to the citations, whether that be accepting them, scheduling a conference for discussion or contesting the findings. Michael Hernández, a spokesperson for MCM, said that the company views OSHA’s actions as a “positive first step” toward determining what caused the bridge to fail.

“While MCM is still reviewing the OSHA fall protection citation, it is noteworthy that OSHA has not claimed that the cited conditions had anything to do with the FIU bridge span’s failure," Hernández said.

Bridge Collapse, Possible Evidence Destroyed

The newly constructed pedestrian bridge collapsed during post-tensioning on March 15, killing five civilians and one employee of subcontractor VSL.

FIU is home to the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center, a multi-university center promoting ABC techniques. The pedestrian bridge was touted as an example of innovative design and construction meant to limit road closures and inconvenience stemming from the otherwise lengthy bridge construction process.

According to CNN, shortly after the span was installed, W. Denney Pate, an engineer with FIGG, which was part of the design-construction team, noticed there was an issue—a crack had formed along the north side of the bridge, and repairs were needed.

In early May, the Miami Herald sued after two months of attempts to access documents related to the collapse, and in early June, FDOT asked a County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the suit. In late August, Leon County state court Judge Kevin Carroll ruled that FDOT must release the records associated with the tragedy. A federal judge quickly stepped in and blocked the release of the documents.

Most recently, it was discovered that 26 threaded steel rods—the kind being tightened on the bridge at the time of the collapse—were melted down after being removed from the site.

Firm Safety Records

In May 2015, Structural Technologies was fined $9,520 for two serious and two “other” violations. MCM has been cited for seven violations in the last five years, according to OSHA records. In the same amount of time, the other companies did not have violations other than those related to the bridge collapse.

   

Tagged categories: Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC); Bridges; Citations; Infrastructure; Laws and litigation; OSHA

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (9/21/2018, 1:09 PM)

I wonder where the rebar was manufactured?


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