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OSHA Fines Kokosing Over Hopple Overpass Death

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Tana Weingartner
/
WVXU

The construction company blamed for the death of one of its workers when the Hopple Street overpass collapsed January 19 has now been fined. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Cincinnati office has cited Kokosing Construction for two serious safety violations and fined the company $14,000.

Foreman Brandon Carl, a 35-year-old father of four from Augusta, KY., was crushed to death when the bridge fell on I-75.

“This man and father of four died in a preventable workplace incident. His family will never recover from that loss and the loss of livelihood,” OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery said. “Kokosing Construction has taken steps to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.”

An OSHA release says this:

OSHA cited the Columbus, Ohio-based company for exposing workers to crushed by and struck by hazards while working on the bridge deck. The company was using a tracked excavator for demolition operations on a working surface that was not strong enough to support the equipment. The second violation cites the company failing to stop demolition work after an engineering error was discovered that could potentially cause the structural collapse.

The company has signed a settlement agreement and will pay $14,000 in penalties by Aug. 31. The company took immediate steps to correct the engineering hazards at the time of the incident. Kokosing has also agreed to use a third party engineering firm for the next five years to conduct bridge demolition engineering surveys.

As part of its settlement conference with OSHA, Kokosing also agreed to pay a penalty of $5,000 for exposing workers to trench hazards while working in an excavation at depths of more than five feet in June 2015 at a Cincinnati construction site.

Pending Litigation

Carl's parents are suing the Ohio Department of Transportation. They sued on behalf of the estate and Carl's family. The lawsuit charges that the department was negligent and breached its duty of care by allowing improper and unsafe conditions at the site for work it had contracted to have done by Kokosing Construction Company of Columbus. It seeks unspecified damages and payment of $11,295 in funeral expenses.

Here is Kokosing's Statement:

Today, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its
findings regarding the January 19 Hopple Street Ramp Bridge collapse, which confirm
the results of our independent investigation: Kokosing Construction made an
engineering mistake that may have contributed to the collapse of the bridge and
subsequent death of our colleague, Brandon Carl. We fully cooperated with OSHA
throughout the agency’s investigation, and have reached a settlement agreement with
OSHA.
We have already taken steps to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again. We
have hired an outside engineering firm, Janssen & Spaans, to reinforce our procedures
to check and double-check our demolition plans. Janssen & Spaans now prepares
designs for our bridge demolitions and Kokosing’s professional engineering team
conducts an independent review so that two companies thoroughly review and agree
before we proceed with demolition. We have also conducted a top to bottom review of
our safety procedures, and continue to conduct one of the most robust safety programs
in the construction industry.
Every one of us at Kokosing Construction remains steadfast in our commitment to the
safety of our employees and the traveling public. Our friend and co-worker Brandon Carl
and his family will always be in our thoughts.

*Correction: One on-air version of this story incorrectly stated that the excavator was holding the bridge. It should have said the excavator was on the bridge.