Firms to Fight OSHA Citations For Fatal Atlanta Bridge Collapse
Two of three firms cited by the U.S. Dept. of Labor for a fatal bridge collapse in Atlanta last December plan to contest the sanctions, issued June 17. Hardin Construction Co. of Atlanta, Williams Erection Co. of Smyrna, Ga., and Southeast Access of Kennesaw, Ga., were fined a total of $26,250 for the Dec. 19, 2008, collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Crews were placing concrete on a new 600-ft-long, 40-ft-tall pedestrian bridge when portions of the structure collapsed, killing one and injuring 17.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s report, Hardin and Williams Erection were each cited for inadequate formwork design, fabrication, erection, support and bracing. OSHA noted that the distance between two shoring towers was approximately 45 ft, when the structural drawings indicated that the maximum distance should be only 30 ft. Hardin, which served as construction manager for the project, was fined $6,300 for the violation. Williams Erection was fined $4,900 for the same violation.
Williams Erection was cited a total of four times, for $15,050 in penalties. Southeast Access was cited once for a violation related to inspection of the shoring equipment, for a penalty of $4,900.
Hardin Construction was acting as the construction manager for the project. According to Bill Pinto, company president, Hardin’s contract for fabrication and erection of the portion of the walkway that collapsed was with SteelFab, based in Charlotte, N.C. The general contractor did not have a contract with Williams Erection, which had been hired by SteelFab to erect the walkway and temporary shoring required for that erection. Southeast Access was working as a subcontractor to Williams Erection, responsible for erecting the scaffolding.
“I believe OSHA listed us as the controlling contractor,” Pinto says, adding that the firm did not self-perform any work on the Botanical Gardens project. “Our opinion would be that SteelFab was the controlling contractor.”
Hardin is also taking issue with OSHA’s assertion about a lack of inspections.
“We feel that there are inaccuracies in the citation and we intend to challenge it vigorously,” Pinto says. Regarding the assertion that there was a lack of inspections, he adds, “That was not accurate. There were a lot of inspections taking place.”
Hardin expects to have an informal conference with OSHA to discuss the case, Pinto adds. OSHA provides 15 days from the date of issuance for a company to formally contest a citation.
Officials with Williams Erection were not available for comment. The firm will appeal OSHA’s findings, according to media reports.
Officials with OSHA’s Atlanta office had no comment, citing the fact that one or more firms were planning to fight the penalties.