BUSINESS

Overpass collapse that killed worker leads to citations, $14,000 fine for construction company

07/15/2015 05:13 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT
CINCINNATI - A company in charge of demolishing a highway overpass that collapsed and killed a construction worker in January has been cited for two safety violations and fined $14,000, a federal agency said Wednesday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations and fine against Columbus-based Kokosing Construction Co. Inc., which agreed to the penalties on Wednesday, OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said.

Kokosing's chief executive officer said Wednesday that the company made an engineering mistake that may have contributed to the collapse of the bridge and subsequent death of the worker.

"We have already taken steps to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again," CEO Brian Burgett said in a statement.

He said Kokosing has hired an outside engineering firm to reinforce the company's procedures and "check and double-check our demolition plans" and has thoroughly reviewed its safety procedures.

The Jan. 19 collapse during demolition work to remove an Interstate 75 ramp bridge just north of downtown Cincinnati killed Brandon Carl. The body of the 35-year-old from Augusta, Kentucky, was recovered from the rubble hours later.

"This man and father of four died in a preventable workplace incident," OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery said in a statement. "His family will never recover from that loss and the loss of livelihood."

Burgett said, "Our friend and co-worker Brandon Carl and his family will always be in our thoughts."

A Michigan truck driver travelling on I-75 was injured in the late-night collapse when the front of his vehicle was crushed by falling concrete and other debris.

The citations were for what OSHA terms "serious" violations.

One citation says employees were "exposed to crushing and/or struck by hazards" because the bridge deck where an excavator was performing demolition operations wasn't sufficiently strong to support the equipment.

The second says bridge demolition had resumed after it was halted earlier when some uplift was found in a structural steel beam.

"The employer allowed employees to continue demolition operations without ensuring the corrective methods applied were effective in preventing collapse of the structure," according to the citation.

Kokosing agreed to correct the violations and use a third-party engineering firm for five years to conduct bridge demolition engineering surveys, OSHA said.

OSHA and the Ohio Department of Transportation have been investigating. The state's investigation is continuing, and officials have not indicated a completion date, department spokesman Matt Bruning said.

The state contracted to have the demolition done by Kokosing.