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Multiple contractors have been cited for workplace safety violations after a fatal pedestrian bridge collapse at the Florida International University campus in Miami and face proposed penalties totaling $86,658.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited multiple contractors for safety violations after one employee suffered fatal injuries and five other employees sustained serious injuries when the pedestrian bridge collapsed, the agency said in a statement on Friday.
On March 15, the partially constructed pedestrian bridge experienced a structural failure, causing the 174-foot-long bridge to fall about 18.5 feet onto the street, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released in May. Eight vehicles that were stopped below the bridge at the time of the collapse were fully or partially crushed — seven of those vehicles were occupied, and five occupants died. The bridge was scheduled to be completed by early 2019 and was built using an accelerated bridge construction method intended to minimize disruption of traffic, according to the NTSB report.
OSHA cited five companies for seven violations: Exton, Pennsylvania-based civil and structural engineering company Figg Bridge Engineers Inc.; construction engineering and inspection firm Network Engineering Services Inc., doing business as Miami-based Bolton Perez & Associates; Columbia, Maryland-based post-tensioning in bridges and buildings specialist firm Structural Technologies LLC, doing business as Structural Technologies/VSL; Miami-based bridge and building construction company Munilla Construction Management LLC; and the Structural Group of South Florida Inc., a contractor specializing in concrete formwork.
OSHA’s investigation determined that the companies failed to protect workers when indications of a potential bridge collapse were evident, according to the statement. Some of the employers failed to remove their employees from proximity to a bridge that had “developed multiple cracks of significant width, depth and length at critical locations,” OSHA said in the citations.
Violations included exposing employees to crushing and fall hazards and allowing multiple employees to connect to an improperly installed lifeline, according to the citations.
“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,” Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Atlanta regional administrator, said in a statement.
Structural Technologies, the company whose employee was killed in the collapse, said it is “saddened by this tragedy” in an emailed statement. The company received the citation from OSHA, is reviewing it, has been fully cooperating with OSHA throughout the investigation and will respond to the citation accordingly, according to the statement.
“It is important to note that the items in the citation issued by OSHA to Structural Technologies are unrelated to any possible cause of the bridge collapse and the resulting fatalities and injuries,” the company said.
Spokespersons for the other companies could not be immediately reached for comment.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited and proposed $140,000 in fines against a Pennsylvania bridge repair company after a fatal trench collapse.