Accident on High-Profile Job Draws Forthright Response
Following a dramatic accident—the second in two months on the $803-million Interstate 10 Twin Spans bridges project—lead contractor Boh Bros. Construction Co. is reviewing safety procedures and employee training and actively seeking out “any additional steps we can implement to improve safety,” says Robert Boh, company president.
The Dec. 23 accident occurred when a 20-year-veteran crane operator, working a mobile hydraulic crane, apparently made a lift “beyond the safe working radius of the crane, causing the machine to tip over against the bridge rail,” Boh says. Employees quickly responded, securing and stabilizing the crane and summoning a rescue boat for additional help.
“The injured employee, who was unconscious at this point, fell from the crane into the water. Because the boat was in position, our employees were able to rescue the injured employee and bring him to shore. Only after our injured employee had cleared the area did the workers release their hold on the crane. It then fell into the water,” Boh says.
The crane operator’s family asked that his identity and medical details remain private. Boh Bros. is honoring that request, says Boh spokeswoman Ann Barks.
The Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development did not halt work, saying the accident is an isolated incident. “We’ve heard that there may have been something medically happen to cause [the crane operator] to do something he shouldn’t have, but we don’t know for sure,” says Mark Lambert, communications director for the DOTD. “We are still hoping to have the opportunity to talk to the man.”
The department will review New Orleans-based Boh’s safety procedures. “The public demands we maintain safe roads and bridges, and DOTD will do everything within its legal authority to ensure our contractors’ worksites also are safe,” says William Ankner, DOTD secretary.
On Dec. 26, Boh released an unusually detailed statement about the accident with assurances to employees and the public that safety is “our primary focus and highest priority” on all company jobsites. “I decided we needed to release more factual information than usual due to the high-profile nature of this project and because there is also understandable public interest and concern following the unrelated accident in October,” Boh says.
On Oct. 30, one employee was killed and two others critically injured when a girder rolled off a concrete support cap during a deck-form flipping operation, sending 10 workers into the water. Investigations are ongoing by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, DOTD, Boh Bros. and Volkert & Associates Inc., Mobile, Ala., which is performing construction, engineering and inspection services for DOTD.