LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The companies building an eastern Ohio River bridge have been fined $21,379 in connection with a crane collapse earlier this year, according to federal safety regulators.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Walsh Construction Co. and Vinci Construction Grand Projets last week over the Feb. 19 incident in which a crane fell into the river.

The citation deemed the two violations “serious,” which OSHA says could “cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation.”  

Walsh and Vinci are part of the WVB East End Partners group that oversees the eastern segment, including the span between Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky., and the roads leading to it on both sides of the river.

“WVB does not typically comment on such citations,” spokesman Dan Hartlage said in a statement. “That said, we continually strive to make our work zones safe for our employees and the public. Safety is our top priority.”

He did not immediately say if the companies plan to contest the citation.

In its investigation, OSHA found that the crane’s wind indicator wasn’t working and that the machine should have been taken out of service and replaced, said Bill Cochran, area director for the agency’s Nashville office, which has jurisdiction over navigable waters in Kentucky.

He said the crane also was being operated outside the manufacturer’s recommendations for the angle of the boom.

Wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour were reported the morning of the collapse. No one was injured, but a worker who fell into the river had to be rescued.

Shortly after the incident, an official with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 181 said the crane should not have in use because of the high winds.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators recommends a crane the size of the one that toppled into the river be lowered about halfway to the ground and not be operating when winds exceed 30 miles per hour.

WDRB News has requested the documents from the OSHA investigation under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

The crane collapse is the second construction-related incident investigated by OSHA during work on the bridges project. In 2015, federal investigators concluded that Walsh Construction didn’t violate U.S. safety rules after three workers were thrown into the Ohio River in 2014 as they tried to recover a boat that had broken loose downtown.

No citations were issued.

Walsh Vinci received a Governor’s Safety and Health Award this year from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet after working 1.4 million hours without time lost to injury or illness. The joint venture was approved for the award on Feb. 2, according to the Cabinet.

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