OSHA investigating death of laborer working on Eads Bridge

Published: Jul. 17, 2015 at 1:17 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, MO (KFVS) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's St. Louis office is investigating the death of a man who was working on the Eads Bridge on Thursday, July 16.

The man was an employee of Thomas Industrial Coatings, based in Pevely, Mo., which specializes in industrial painting and coatings.

The bridge spans the Mississippi River.

Initial reports said the worker was standing on scaffolding under the bridge and vacuuming. The scaffolding was hit by a barge and, as a result, the man died from his injuries.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this worker killed in a tragic incident today," OSHA Assistant Area Director David Keim said. "OSHA will investigate to determine if any violations of safety regulations contributed to this tragedy. No worker should fail to return home at the end of his shift."

According to OSHA, three employees of the same company died in separate incidents in 2006. OSHA cited the company as a result of those investigations.

  • Feb. 17, 2006 - Four employees were working on a scaffolding platform under the Jefferson Barracks Bridge when it collapsed. Three workers were rescued. The fourth worker's body was recovered on April 18 from the river channel.
  • May 10, 2006 - An employee was working from a suspended metal decked scaffold platform to paint the underside of a bridge. He fell through a hole in the decking of the scaffold, measuring 4 feet by 4 feet, and fell approximately 40 feet to the ground. He died as a result of his injuries.
  • July 5, 2006 - A worker was removing metal decking from a scaffold platform being dismantled and suspended under a bridge. He fell off the scaffold to the ground, approximately 35 feet below the deck, and was killed.

According to OSHA, the agency inspects workplaces based on six prioritized reasons. Those include:

  • Imminent danger situations - Hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive top priority. Compliance officers will ask employees to correct these hazards immediately, or remove endangered employees.
  • Fatalities and catastrophes - Incidents that involve a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees come next. Employers must report such catastrophes to OSHA within 8 hours.
  • Complaints - Allegations of hazards or violations also receive a high priority. Employees may request anonymity when they file complaints.
  • Referrals - Hazard information from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection
  • Follow-ups - Checks or abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.
  • Planned or programmed investigations - Inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses also receive priority.

OSHA must issue a citation and proposed penalty within six months of the violation's occurrence.

For more information on the OSHA inspection process, you can click here.

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