Painter Perishes in Fall from Bridge
Federal safety authorities are investigating the death of a painter who fell 100 feet from a Louisiana bridge that was undergoing repair.
Marcos Rodrigues, 36, an employee of Ohio-based North Star Painting Co., died at a hospital Sunday (March 9) shortly after he fell at 3:45 p.m. from the Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish, LA, said Maj. Sid Berthelot of the St. James Parish Sheriff's Office.
Rodrigues, of Campbell, OH, landed on the west bank levee, Berthelot said.
Details of the accident were few. Berthelot told The Advocate of Baton Rouge, LA, that another worker said he had been standing beside Rodrigues on scaffolding when he fell. It was not known if Rodrigues was wearing fall protection.
'Skilled and Enthusiastic'
North Star has a $25.1 million contract to paint the 8,236-foot-long bridge, which carries LA 70 over the Mississippi River between Donaldson and Sorrento.
In a statement Thursday (March 13), North Star Painting said it was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the "death of our friend and colleague."
The company expressed "sincerest condoleneces" to Rodrigues' family, friends and colleagues, adding:
"We were very fortunate to have worked with Marcos on many bridge projects over the years, and we warmly remember his enthusiastic and skillful support to the projects.
"He was a very kind person who was always willing to give his time and knowledge. We are deeply saddened that we will not have him around us anymore."
Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development halted the bridge project while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted its investigation, an LA DOTD spokeswoman told The Advocate.
More than 200 U.S. construction workers are killed, and more than 10,000 seriously injured, each year in falls. The Stop Construction Falls campaign offers assistance and resources for workers and employers.
North Star's project involves cleaning, structurally rehabilitating and repainting the main truss spans of the metal cantilever bridge.
Painting on the bridge had not yet begun. Concrete barriers were being installed from March 6 to March 10, according to a project update last week by LA DOTD.
North Star was cited by OSHA in July 2010 for one serious violation related to fall protection. The company settled the case for a $940 fine.
OSHA also inspected various company work sites four times in 2004, 2007 and 2009 without issuing any citations.