Indiana drops fines against Walsh Construction in Milton-Madison - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana drops fines against Walsh Construction in Milton-Madison Bridge death

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – An Indiana judge has dismissed $10,000 in penalties levied against Walsh Construction, ruling that a worker killed while building the Milton-Madison Bridge was “trained and competent” to operate the aerial lift in which he was found unconscious.

Roger Cox, 50, died on May 4, 2012, four days after he was pinned between a steel beam and a lift during construction of the Ohio River bridge between Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky.

The Indiana Department of Labor issued three safety violations that resulted in the proposed fines, alleging that Walsh didn’t adequately train Cox, a carpenter and welder, to operate the lift and understand the hazards involved in using scaffolding. The Chicago-based company contested the penalties.

Based on testimony from Walsh employees, an administrative law judge found that Cox had participated in safety briefings, received classroom training and used the lift properly more than 100 times before the 2012 incident, according to documents obtained under Indiana’s public records law.

The labor department’s evidence “did not establish that Mr. Cox was inadequately trained to operate and perform work in the aerial lift as alleged,” judge Danny Deighton wrote in his Jan. 15 order.

More than two months later, Deighton presided as chairman of the Indiana Board of Safety Review when it voted 4-0 on March 19 to accept Deighton’s order. Under Indiana law, an agency’s chair also can serve as an administrative law judge.

The case was closed in April, according to an U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration database.

Members of Cox’s family did not return phone calls from WDRB News seeking comment. Peter Glimco, Walsh’s corporate counsel, declined to comment.

Records in the case claim that the two Walsh workers who testified in 2013 that Cox was proficient in using the lift failed to tell an investigator about the training when they were interviewed in May 2012.

It is “self-serving and disingenuous to offer only testimony at a hearing over one year later,” J. Anthony Hardman, the Indiana Department of Labor’s general counsel, argued in case documents. Hardman noted that the employees spoke to the state investigator and “offered nothing of the sort at the time that it was requested.”

Hardman claimed Walsh wasn’t able to produce any evidence that Cox or other workers had been “sufficiently trained” during the on-site investigation. In addition, he alleged that Walsh employees gave statements that they hadn’t been trained “even though records later produced by Walsh indicated that they had.”

The labor department didn’t object to Deighton’s order.

Besides the Madison project, which involved replacing the aging U.S. 421 bridge across the Ohio River, Walsh is overseeing work on both segments of the Ohio River Bridges Project in the Louisville area.

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