UNION: Winds should have shut down East End Crossing crane work before collapse

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Monday brought the first time cranes were back in action on the East End Bridge project, but Friday's accident is like a cloud hanging over construction. The twisted shell of a 280ft crane is still sticking out from the Ohio River three days after it collapsed. 

"Safety is the project teams first priority," said McKenzie Loid, a spokesperson for the project, on Friday. 

Originally, Loid blamed a mechanical failure and wind for the crane collapse, but now safety is being called into question. Wind gusts ranged from 40-50 mph when the crane came crashing down around 11 a.m. Friday.

A representative for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 181 tells WDRB it was too windy to work.

"The crane should have been shut down," training administrator Rick Grider said. 

A testing manual from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators recommends that a crane the size of the one that fell on Friday be lowered about halfway to the ground with no operation when winds top 30 mph. 

"It may be too soon to speculate on that," said Dan Hartlage, spokesperson for the project. "What did occur on Friday is being assessed and it's going to be several more days before a full assessment is conducted."

Kentucky's OSHA officials have taken over the review. Safety regulators will factor in the wind speeds and the direction the crane was facing when it collapsed, along with the crane's inspection records and the operator's license among other things. 

For the next few days, the mess in the water is going nowhere. 

Hartlage said," The crane will be removed and the entire process is likely to take 1-2 weeks." 

Part of the investigation will also look at whether the crane damaged the bridge itself. When it collapsed, the crane bent over the frame of the bridge and also knocked down part of a walkway. 

Fortunately, no one was hurt in Friday's crane collapse. The contractor, WVB East End Partners, is leading an internal review of how the crash happened. A Kentucky Labor Department spokesman said an OSHA report could take up to six months.

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