State fines company $189K after worker falls during Ross Island - KPTV - FOX 12

State fines company $189K after worker falls during Ross Island Bridge project

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A worker fell while working on the Ross Island Bridge in February. (KPTV) A worker fell while working on the Ross Island Bridge in February. (KPTV)
Image from Air 12/KPTV in February. Image from Air 12/KPTV in February.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division has fined a Minnesota company $189,000 for safety violations after a worker fell onto a co-worker underneath the Ross Island Bridge.

OSHA investigators said they found nine safety violations that exposed employees to the possibility of serious injury or death as they worked on a project to restore the bridge.

On Feb. 8, an Abhe & Svoboda Inc. employee working on the upper deck of a suspended scaffolding system fell 37 feet through a ladder opening and landed on an employee who was working directly below.

Both workers survived the incident.

OSHA reported that the employee who fell was not protected by a fall protection system, which is required by the state agency.

Investigators said eight employees were exposed to that same hazard when the fall occurred.

According to OSHA, the investigation also found:

  • The company failed to provide proper access to work areas, forcing employees to climb up or down the scaffolding and bridge structure, and to sidestep or step over holes ranging in size from 3 inches to 24 inches.
  • The company failed to construct and install the scaffolding system according to the minimum bracing requirements, as outlined by professional specifications.
  • Scaffolds and related components were not set up, dismantled, and moved under the direction of a competent person.
  • Employees lacked rest platforms while climbing 37-foot ladders.
  • The company failed to ensure that employees had a work platform that was at least 18 inches wide
  • Anchorages for fall protection equipment were not installed or used under the supervision of a competent person.
  • Scaffolds were not inspected for visible defects before each work shift by a competent person.
  • A makeshift device - a wooden step stool - was used on platforms to increase the working height of employees.

During the investigation, according to OSHA, the corporate safety manager for Abhe & Svoboda spoke dismissively of Oregon's workplace safety rules, saying they change too much.

Two of the violations were described as willful and carried a $70,000 fine each. The other seven violations were cited as serious with a maximum penalty of $7,000.

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