2 Ga. Contractors Cited After Fatal Bridge Collapse During Demolition

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Georgia bridge collapse excavator truck in river
One worker died and two were injured when this section of a bridge being demolished collapsed October 19 in Covington, Georgia. The excavator and truck also fell about 50 feet into the Yellow River and were removed by crane.
Georgia DOT East

Two Georgia contractors have been cited after a collapse on a bridge demolition project killed one worker and injured two others, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The incident occurred October 19 when crews were demolishing an old bridge as part of the Access Road replacement project near Interstate 20 Exit 88 in Covington. According to OSHA, an overstressed section of the bridge collapsed and fell into the Yellow River about 50 feet below. A concrete saw weighing more than 1,700 pounds fell with the bridge section and landed on 33-year-old Demario Battle, who died at the hospital from his injuries.

Battle and another worker who was seriously injured in the collapse were loading concrete saws into a truck, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An excavator operator on the bridge was also injured when he and the machine fell into the river.

Battle and the other worker loading the saws worked for subcontractor B&D Concrete Cutting Inc. of Atlanta. The company faces proposed penalties of $25,669. The general contractor, which employed the excavator operator, was Georgia Bridge and Concrete LLC of Tucker, Georgia, which faces proposed penalties of $31,283.

OSHA cited B&D Concrete Cutting for the following alleged violations and proposed penalties: (Serious violations are those when the workplace hazard could cause an accident that would most likely cause death or harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.)

  • Saw cutting of bridge curbs and deck caused the bridge to become overstressed and to fail. Serious violation, $14,502.
  • The employer did not ensure that an engineering survey was performed by a competent person before employees saw cut bridge curbs and deck, exposing them to fall and struck-by hazards. Serious violation, $11,167.

OSHA cited Georgia Bridge and Concrete for the following alleged violations and proposed penalties:

  • Employees were exposed to fall and struck by hazards as they saw cut bridge curbs and deck causing the bridge to become overstressed and fail. Serious violation, $14,502.
  • The company did not ensure that an engineering survey was performed by a competent person before bridge dismantling operations, exposing workers to fall and struck-by hazards. Serious violation, $11,747.
  • Employees refueling equipment were exposed to fire hazards because a fire extinguisher was not available within 25 to 75 feet of two diesel fuel pumps. Serious violation, $5,034. There were also no no-smoking signs on the pumps.
  • Employees operating a JLG 600SJ Telescopic Boom Lift during a bridge dismantling operation were exposed to a fall hazard in that the controls on the platform control console were not clearly marked to identify their function. Other-than-serious violation, no monetary penalty.

“If the employers had conducted a proper survey on this highly technical project as required, the tragic loss of one worker and serious injuries to another may not have happened,” said OSHA Area Office Director Joshua Turner in Atlanta-East. “Established safety standards exist to ensure workers get home safely and don’t leave families, friends and communities to grieve a preventable fatality.” 

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Both companies have 15 business days from the April 15 citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

Georgia bridge collapse aerial viewAn aerial view of the collapsed bridge section.Georgia DOT East