OSHA: No citations for Walsh Construction in downtown bridge boa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

OSHA: No citations for Walsh Construction in downtown bridge boat accident

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Walsh Construction won't be cited after three workers were thrown into the Ohio River as they sought to retrieve a boat that had broken free from the downtown bridge construction site.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration closed its investigation into the May 2014 incident and found no violations of federal workplace safety rules. No one was seriously injured after their boat capsized, but two workers were taken to a local hospital.

OSHA's Nashville office, which oversees navigable waters in Kentucky and Tennessee, concluded that the employees broke Walsh's internal safety guidelines, according to a report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The investigation revealed that the company's policy was violated by the employees in the boat when crossing under the 2nd Street Bridge. The company's policy states that ‘Any boat responding to MOB (“man overboard”) should not exceed a distance of 100 yards downstream of the 2nd Street Bridge,'” the report says.

In interviews with OSHA, Walsh management said the company's rules ban employees from passing the Second Street Bridge – formally known as the Clark Memorial – or entering a Coast Guard safety zone that prohibits fishing, swimming and boats. Walsh workers interviewed by federal regulators said the policy was considered “common knowledge.”

A spokesman for Walsh declined to comment on the report.

The OSHA report provides the best description to date of the events that occurred on the river around midnight last May 31.

According to the report, an employee had tied a crew boat to a construction barge. A worker later noticed the boat was missing after a night supervisor asked to be picked up from shore. Using a second crew boat, the supervisor and two other workers set out looking for the missing boat, which they eventually spotted at the gates to McAlpine Locks and Dam.

“As they approached the boat, the current of the water became extremely turbulent and slammed them into the dam's flood gate where their boat capsized. They were all sucked through the flood gate and were led by the water's current onto the other side of the dam's gate,” the report says.

The supervisor swam to shore, while a fisherman rescued the other workers, according to the report. OSHA officials determined all three employees were wearing life jackets.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which investigated the incident last spring, did not file any charges.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet and Walsh are participating in a program that allows state labor officials to identify any injuries or hazards at the project site. The Cabinet has declined to make public any reports under the program.

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