Two Georgia contractors have received federal citations with proposed penalties of nearly $57,000 for their roles in an October 2021 bridge demolition collapse that killed one worker and injured another.
An investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Georgia Bridge and Concrete LLC of Tucker, Ga., and B&D Concrete Cutting Inc. of Atlanta failed to conduct a proper engineering survey before allowing workers to begin dismantling the 310-ft-long, 43.25-ft-wide Access Road Bridge spanning the Yellow River adjacent to Interstate 20 in Covington, Ga.
Demolition of the 84-year-old, four-span structure was the first phase of a $3.1-million replacement project led by Georgia Bridge and Concrete for the Georgia Dept. of Transportation, and had reportedly gotten underway on October 18, 2021
As the jobsite crew worked to cut concrete sections on the afternoon of Oct. 19, according to OSHA, an overstressed 70-ft-long bridge section collapsed and fell approximately 50 ft into the river. During the collapse, a concrete saw weighing more than 1,700 lbs struck and fatally injured a 33-year-old B&D employee, Demario Battle. A second B&D worker suffered injuries and was hospitalized.
OSHA investigators found that “company personnel did not ensure procedures were in place to prevent structural members from being overstressed during dismantling operations. This failure exposed employees to fall and struck-by hazards.”
Georgia Bridge and Concrete, formerly known as Sunbelt Structures Inc., received two “serious” citations for the collapse, and two others for exposing employees to fire hazards around two jobsite fuel pumps. OSHA’s proposed penalties against the company total $31,283.
B&D Concrete Cutting, formerly known as B&K Concrete Cutting, was issued two “serious” violations, with a proposed penalty of $25,669. The two companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before an independent commission.
Philip Siegel, an attorney representing B&D, says the firm denies that it violated any OSHA standard. The company has filed notice to contest the citations. "B&D safely performed its work in a good and workmanlike manner in accordance with industry standards," Siegel says.
Georgia Bridge and Concrete did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bridge replacement was halted immediately after the incident to recover the submerged equipment and allow multiple investigations to get underway. According to GDOT, crews began returning to the site in mid-January. Completion is scheduled for late September.
This past March, the injured B&D worker filed a negligence lawsuit against the Georgia Bridge and Concrete foreman in charge of the project for allowing heavy machinery onto the structure after cuts had been made to the concrete face. The foreman has denied the allegations.