Crane Accidents

Gantry Crane Collapsed on Bridge Job

04/10/00

Daytona, Florida

Engineers have figured out why a block-long construction gantry collapsed last week: Its manufacturer left out a few pieces.

Broadway Bridge construction officials said only the tail end of the massive horizontal crane actually collapsed 10 days ago, a section about one-tenth the total length of the structure. But the gantry is the key tool Misener Marine Construction workers plan to use to build the new high-rise Broadway Bridge over the Halifax River, and the accident has the potential to delay the project more than seven weeks.

Workers were testing a moving winch that rolls along the elevated gantry on April 10. When the winch got to the end, the tail section of track buckled under its weight and toppled into the intersection of Beach Street and International Speedway Boulevard, clipping a power line on the way down. The winch tipped precariously and tossed a worker 20 to 30 feet to the ground.

The worker, 32-year-old Gelardino Ciarlariello of Italy, underwent hours of surgery to save his crushed leg. He remains at Halifax Medical Center, but his condition has been upgraded from serious to satisfactory and he’s expected to be released soon, perhaps as early as today, a hospital spokesman said.

Wednesday the missing pieces are relatively small and altogether weigh only about 250 pounds, but would have been enough to keep the 600-foot gantry from collapsing.

Only the tail end of the massive horizontal craneactually collapsed 10 days ago, a section about one-tenth the total length of the structure. But the gantry is the key tool Misener Marine Construction workers plan to use to build the new high-rise Broadway Bridge over the Halifax River, and the accident has the potential to delay the project more than seven weeks.

Workers were testing a moving winch that rolls along the elevated gantry on April 10. When the winch got to the end, the tail section of track buckled under its weight and toppled into the intersection of Beach Street and International Speedway Boulevard, clipping a power line on the way down. The winch tipped precariously and tossed a worker 20 to 30 feet to the ground.

The worker, 32-year-old Gelardino Ciarlariello of Italy, underwent hours of surgery to save his crushed leg. He remains at Halifax Medical Center, but his condition has been upgraded from serious to satisfactory and he’s expected to be released soon, perhaps as early as today, a hospital spokesman said.

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency that investigates workplace accidents, have six months to complete their report and make the findings public. But Florida Department of Transportation officials and the contractor building the bridge say they are satisfied with the explanation for the accident.

The gantry was manufactured in Italy and shipped piece by piece to the job site, where it was assembled. Gayle Geddes, a spokeswoman for the engineering consulting firm overseeing the Broadway project, said the gantry’s designers meant to include short cross-braces in the section that collapsed.

“In the design plans, they were in there,” she said Wednesday. “In the stage between the design and the drafting and drawing of the plans, those pieces were left out.”

The pieces in question were supposed to keep the gantry from shifting from side to side, according to Brett Pielstick, the consultant resident engineer.

“Because those cross-braces weren’t there, it wasn’t stable laterally,” Pielstick said. “Once it started moving laterally, there was no stopping it.”

The Italian company that manufactured the gantry, Comtec, has accepted responsibility for the mishap. Ciarlariello, the worker injured in the accident, is a Comtec employee.

Engineers said the tail section of the gantry the part that collapsed isn’t needed because it is used for the transfer of concrete bridge segments brought in by trucks. The bridge segments for this project will be delivered by barge so the damaged section won’t be replaced. Repairs still must be made, though, and workers probably won’t be able to use the gantry to begin lifting bridge segments into place until early June.

Still, officials with Misener Marine Construction hope that by speeding up their work, the project can be finished by their original target date of May 2001. They’ve got a substantial incentive to meet that deadline; DOT has offered the company a $1 million bonus if the bridge is finished by that date.

“They seem to be pretty confident they can accelerate the schedule,” DOT spokesman Steve Homan said. “Their schedule was pretty conservative.”

Category: Accident Report

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