The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited PCL Civil Constructors Inc. for two serious safety violations that led to the death of a welder in April on the Bonner Bridge demolition project in Dare County, N.C.
OSHA says the firm was storing discarded concrete on the section of bridge where the welder, identified in an obituary as 42-year-old Jose Armando Maqueda Mejia (El Guero), was torch-cutting crossbeams when the weight of the material caused the structure to collapse. Mejia fell more than 50 ft and died.
According to OSHA, the company is accused of failing to use engineering surveys and calculations to avoid the unplanned collapse when it developed its demolition sequences. OSHA also says PCL overloaded bridge sections beyond their weight capacity. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $23,210.
“PCL Civil Contractors violated the federal safety standards and a worker needlessly died as a result,” OSHA Area Director Kimberley Morton said in a statement. “If [the company] had followed well-known standards, this tragic loss of life could have been prevented.”
PCL has 15 days from the time it receives the citation notice to contest OSHA’s proposed penalties. Through a spokesperson, the company declined to comment.
On its website, PCL claims to “maintain best in class industry safety with an average of more than 50 million hours worked annually and an overall total recordable incident rate and overall lost-time frequency rate, among the industry’s lowest.”
The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge crossed the Oregon Inlet, connecting Hatteras Island to the Northern Outer Banks. It opened in 1963. As ENR previously reported, the 2.3-mile-long bridge has been replaced by the new PCL-built Marc Basnight Bridge, which opened in February 2019. Demolition of the Bonner Bridge began that March.
Inlet shoaling limited the movement of barges carrying debris from the former bridge, slowing the demolition process beyond its originally-planned 2019 completion schedule, ENR previously reported. Most of the material was being deposited at artificial reefs.