State examining Tutor-Saliba winchBy Sean Holstege
State worker safety inspectors are focusing on a winch as a leading theory about what might have killed an ironworker on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge last week.
Miguel Rodriguez Jr. was killed Friday from a massive blow to his head after he fell from a work platform 30 feet over the water.
The accident happened when the 36-year-old Concord man was hoisting a chunk of steel using a 5,000-pound pneumatic winch manufactured by Ingersoll-Rand.
Cal-OSHA inspectors took the device to a lab for testing.
"Clearly the issue of the winch is important in our investigation," said Susan Gard, spokeswoman for the California Department of Industrial Relations.
It is too early to tell if the device was to blame, or exactly why the steel beam crashed through the floor of Rodriguez's plywood work platform.
After a painter was killed on the Bay Bridge when his work platform buckled in 2002, Cal-OSHA inspectors inspected the platform at a San Leandro lab. Cal-OSHA found deficient welds on the platform, banned its use and ordered new work methods, after a lengthy work stoppage.
Work continued this week on the San Rafael Bridge, after Caltrans voluntarily halted seismic retrofit work over the weekend.
Friday's accident was the second one on the $665 million retrofit job in which a worker was hurt as he lifted a steel beam.
In January, Cal-OSHA fined contractor Tutor-Saliba/Koch/Tidewater a $450 after 22-foot chunk of steel fell on a worker's leg during a hoist. The worker was taken a hospital with a compound fracture.
Inspectors found the accident occurred because the steel slipped from a clamp, when "a more secure shackle" should have been used. Tutor-Saliba appealed the fine.
Copyright ©2004 Tri-Valley Herald. Published 08/04/2004.