Tuesday, September 20, 2016

East End Bridge builders, Walsh Construction Co. and Vinci Construction, challenge OSHA fines after crane collapse in KY

 Posted: Sep 20, 2016 10:22 AM EST Updated: Sep 20, 2016 10:35 AM EST
By Marcus Green

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The companies building an eastern Ohio River bridge have challenged the penalties issued last month in connection with a February crane collapse.

Walsh Construction Co. and Vinci Construction are facing $21,379 in fines from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which alleges managers knew a wind gauge was broken when a crane buckled in high winds earlier this year. No one was injured.

The workplace safety agency issued citations to Walsh and Vinci for not using a wind speed indicator and failing to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for operating the crane. OSHA found that the crane’s indicator had been broken for months.

Dan Hartlage, a spokesman for the companies, said a statement on Aug. 19 that wind gauges “were on site and in use as required by OSHA.” He has declined to specifically say whether the crane that collapsed had a working gauge, as alleged by OSHA.

Walsh and Vinci contested the proposed penalties on Sept. 6, according to OSHA’s online database. The case remains open.

The violations are “serious,” meaning a “workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.”

Wind speeds of up to 50 miles per hour were reported when the crane collapsed on Feb. 19. The crane folded back on itself when a “gust of wind” hit its boom, causing one worker on a construction barge to jump into the river before swimming ashore, according to the federal investigation.