Granite Construction Fined for Fatal Bridge Fall

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A ruling has been made regarding last summer's fatal accident of a crew working on the new twin-span replacement bridge for the Hathaway bridge. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation found that Granite construction is responsible for not safely securing a scaffold and overloading it.

"The scaffold was posted as ready capacity of two-thousand pounds," says James Borders of O.S.H.A. "They put more weight than that on the scaffold."

45-year old Alan Stockton of Panama City Beach was killed and three other men were injured when the scaffold they were attached to collapsed while they were working on the new bridge.

O.S.H.A. fined Granite $17,000 for the fatal accident. O.S.H.A. previously fined the company $49,000 after Richie James of Fountain fell to his death in December of 2002 while working on the new bridge.

"Falls continue to be the number one cause of deaths at construction sites," says Borders. "If you have employees working above six-feet you need to put into place some adequate fall protection."

O.S.H.A. also fined United Form Services $49-hundred for faulty scaffold design. Tragedy is not slowing down progress. "This is the first span taken out," says Granite's Bill Crittenden in response to the beginning of the tearing down and removal of the Hathaway bridge.

"We need to remove this part of the old bridge to bring a crane in for work on the new bridge."

The Hathaway bridge will be used as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico once completely removed.

Crittenden says, "On a span basis, if everything is all prepped and ready we can remove all the concrete girder spans in a day. The steel spans take a few more days."

Weather permitting, it is expected to take three to four months for the complete removal of the Hathaway bridge.