Past safety awards are no guarantee of future success in construction. In a recent accident, a construction worker died and a truck driver was injured after an overpass collapsed onto the southbound lanes of I-75 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The accident left hundreds of tons of machinery and concrete on the road, according to ABC News (1.19.15).
Kokosing, the company tasked with the construction of the overpass, had won awards for safety in the past, including the Willis/Construction Safety Excellence Award in 2006. This is the nation’s Grand Award from the Associated General Contractors of America. In 2009, the company was awarded OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program Star Mobile Workforce Status. They wrote proudly of these awards on their website.
Cincinnati’s police chief, Jeff Blackwell referred to the incident as a “workplace accident.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Ohio Department of Transportation were looking into the incident. An excavation and then assessment of the overall structure of the remaining bridge parts and the pavement itself will need to be completed before the road re-opens and workers can continue their jobs.
The accident occurred while workers were taking down an overhead exit ramp that had recently been replaced by a new one. As they were working it pancaked down. The overpass crushed a construction worker as it collapsed and pinned him under the rubble. Crews needed airbags to lift the debris off him and remove his body.
A tractor-trailer hit the collapsed section as the bridge hit the ground. The driver suffered minor injuries. Police Chief Blackwell called the driver “very lucky.” He said the driver was probably seconds away from a different “fate.”
Accidents happen but this one was most likely preventable. When construction accidents do occur, there are usually several steps that lead up to them. Construction sites are always dangerous. In fact, OSHA reported that one in five worker deaths in 2013 were in construction. However, most workplace accidents may be avoided with the right safety measures. A structural collapse is typically considered a major catastrophe.
Among the factors that will be scrutinized by the investigators is the weight of the “heavy equipment” on the bridge.
A number of time structural collapses have been caused by too much weight placed on the structure. Other causes of collapse may be issues in the design, poor quality building materials, or a poor foundation. A construction company’s failure to take proper safety measures during a demolition, construction or renovation of a structure can result in the collapse of the structure, and-or the collapse of a nearby structure.
Individuals who have been injured on a construction site should contact an experienced lawyer to help with an injury claim. A lawyer can help conduct a thorough investigation, including the construction site, medical records, witness statements, and the identification of parties related to the incident to help determine liability.