OSHA fines companies in deadly bridge collapse

Published 11:03 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2007

JACKSON (AP) — A bridge collapse that killed two workers and injured seven others was a ‘‘preventable’’ tragedy and four companies share the blame in the deadly mishap, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday.

OSHA proposed fines totaling $95,725 against the four contractors, which were rebuilding the St. Louis Bay Bridge that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

The companies have about two weeks to appeal.

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Alger Pennamn of Jackson and Delfino Beltran of Mexico both died after they plunged nearly 50 feet into the Bay of St. Louis after a concrete column collapsed on June 14.

‘‘This collapse was preventable. Better construction engineering and management could have prevented this tragedy,’’ Clyde Payne, director of OSHA’s Jackson office, said in a news release.

Payne said Granite Archer Western, a joint venture that acted as the lead contractor in the construction project, was cited with ‘‘one willful violation carrying a $70,000 proposed penalty for failing to correctly design, fabricate, erect, brace and maintain the formwork.’’

‘‘Inspectors determined that the formwork was incapable of supporting the lateral load of the wet concrete,’’ Payne said. ‘‘The company also has been cited with four serious violations and $8,500 in proposed penalties, as well as for two other-than-serious violations.’’

A message left at Granite Land Company, which is an affiliate company in the Granite Archer Western venture, was not immediately returned.

Boston-based engineering firm HNTB Corp. was cited for two serious violations with $8,425 in penalties. San Francisco-based URS Corp. was charged with one serious violation with a $6,300 proposed penalty. D.T. Reed Steel Co. from Chesapeake, Va., was cited for two serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $2,500.