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OSHA launches inspections of two companies after truck tip-over on Sakonnet Bridge

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Crane overturns on Sakonnet River Bridge_350238

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) – The two private contractors involved in the bucket truck that tipped over on the Sakonnet River Bridge Monday are now the focus of a Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigation.

OSHA spokesperson Edmund Fitzgerald said the agency’s Providence office opened inspections of two companies: AECOM and N.E. Contractors of Norton, Massachusetts, which also goes by the name Bridgeriggers.

The two workers who were operating the “under bridge inspection units,” or snooper truck, worked for AECOM in Providence, which rented the vehicle from Bridgeriggers.

A woman who answered the phone at Bridgeriggers confirmed the owner of the company was meeting with OSHA officials to inspect the truck, but declined to comment further. The owner has not called back.

Bridgeriggers has never been cited by OSHA, nor has AECOM’s Providence office.

A New York-based spokesperson for AECOM said in an email “all safety protocols were followed” in the incident.

“[The workers] were transported by ambulance to the hospital where they were found to have no significant injuries and were discharged that evening,” Brendan Ranson-Walsh said in an email. “Safety inspectors and authorities are currently investigating the cause of the incident.”

Fitzgerald said OSHA is “gathering whatever information it will need to make a determination.”

“The purpose of the inspections is to determine if there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident,” Fitzgerald said in an email. “If the inspections identify violations, citations could be issued to and fines proposed for the violating employer(s).”

A spokesperson for the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) said they are suspending the use of all snooper truck temporarily.

A similar incident involving a snooper truck happened in West Hartford, Connecticut, on Aug. 26, 2015. A bridge inspector was killed when the truck flipped over on an on-ramp to I-84.

A Connecticut State Police investigation of the incident is still ongoing, but OSHA cited McClain & Company, of Virginia, for failing to routinely inspect the vehicle. The company was originally fined $7,000. That was lowered to $4,500 as part of a settlement, according to OSHA’s website.

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Executive Director Buddy Croft said the two AECOM employees were sent to the hospital but released quickly.

He said one of the workers had a significant amount of blood on his face at the scene, and officials thought he had broken his nose, but it turns out he did not.

The Sakonnet River Bridge did sustain some damage as a result of the truck tipping onto it, but an inspection showed it is not serious, he said.

“There is no structural damage, there was cosmetic damage that can be repaired easily,” Croft said. “We do need to finish the inspection and within a couple of weeks we do need to be back out there.”

The snooper truck used in the Sakonnet incident is an “A-75” made by Aspen.

An online description of the vehicle on Bridgerigger’s site says it’s “the largest of under bridge machines with a 75’ maximum horizontal reach.”

“Whether you need to work above, below, or alongside the bridge, the A-75 will safely maneuver you closer to the bridge structure and allow you to work hands on, getting work done more efficiently and more effectively,” it states.

The truck does not come with “outriggers,” which are stabilizer feet that extend from the sides of a crane, but rather uses a counterweight on the other side of the boom arm.

It also has axel locks which hold the truck’s suspension in place when the crane is in operation. It’s unclear if the axel locks engage automatically when the boom arm is deployed or if they have to be set manually. A call to the truck’s manufacturer – Aspen – was not immediately returned. Tim White( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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