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Florida Contractors Face Fines from OSHA for Bridge Collapse in March

Employers, especially those in construction, almost always say “the safety of our employees is our number one priority”.  Most of the time, this is true.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is not true and people get hurt as a result. 

What Happened

Florida International University (FIU) paid several contractors to build a pedestrian bridge over Tamiami Trail (U.S. route 41).

  • The main span of the bridge was lifted into place on March 10, 2016.
  • On March 13th, the engineer in charge of the project reported cracking on the north section of the main span. The engineer left a voicemail with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which explained that the cracks were not a safety issue and could be repaired later.
  • On March 15th, engineers were adjusting tension on a portion of the bridge and it collapsed killing 6 people and injuring 9 others.

The Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a team to the site the day of the collapse.  Over the course of the next two years, the NTSB and FDOT investigated the pieces of the bridge, all communications to and from the contractors and governing bodies, and all paperwork filed in preparation for building.

After two years of investigation, it was determined that the contractors were negligent in their assessment that the cracks in the bridge were benign and they failed to protect their employees.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was given the go ahead to propose just under $90,000 in fines to be evenly dispersed amongst the contractors.  In addition to the fines, civil suits are being filed in 2018 and plaintiff’s compensation for damages could rise to over $1 billion.

If you feel that your employer has put you in an uncomfortable position or in outright danger, you may have options.  Whether it be discrimination, physical danger, or some other workplace transgression, if you need guidance, contact Elias Dsouza at Dsouza and Strachan Lawgroup Group for a free consultation.  Elias has the skills and experience to defend you.

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