Personal Injury

OSHA investigates construction company after CT bridge collapse

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Bridgeport, Conn., office are investigating the scene of a bridge collapse that seriously injured a 59-year-old construction employee.

Anthony Mariano, a member of a construction crew employed by Brunali Construction Co. of Southington, was operating an excavation machine Tuesday morning beneath a bridge in the city of Naugatuck. Sensing the bridge had become unstable, Mariano cleared his coworkers from under the bridge and was about to remove the excavating machine when a 100-foot section dislodged and fell.

Paramedics rushed Mariano to Waterbury Hospital and then airlifted him to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he is listed in critical but stable condition.

Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick told the Hartford Courant that some sort of structural failure had occurred during the demolition phase of the project, causing a section of the bridge to fall prematurely. Construction crews were working on dismantling one section of the structure, which spans the Naugatuck River and Metro North rail lines, in preparation for building a new $23.5 million bridge.

OSHA had inspected the construction site back in November and found three record-keeping violations in Brunali Construction’s files, but those have since been corrected.

However, according to an OSHA release, in December 2008 the agency inspected a Brunali Construction job at a bridge spanning the Housatonic River in Canaan, Conn. OSHA cited the company for “13 alleged willful and serious violations of construction safety standards,” finding that the workers were exposed to falls up to 43 feet into the river. The agency also found the Brunali workers had no access to life jackets, ring buoys or lifesaving skiff even though they were working over the water. Federal law requires employers to provide such safety equipment for workers when they are working over water.

“The significant hazard of a four-story plunge was exacerbated by the lack of required lifesaving rescue equipment,” according to an OSHA statement. “While it’s fortunate no fall or drowning occurred, the potential for a fatal or serious accident was real and present at this jobsite.”

OSHA originally fined Brunali Construction $180,950 for the violations but lowered the penalty to $140,000 after the company challenged it.