OSHA Investigates Fatal Truck Accident in Connecticut

After the second accident in just two days, McClain and Co. has been suspended by all work in the state of Connecticut pending investigation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) opened up this investigation after a fatal accident in West Hartford.

Details of the Fatal Accident

According to the Hartford Courant, the accident, occurring in West Hartford, Connecticut, happened at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Park Road on ramp heading eastbound to Interstate 84 near Exit 43.

A McClain and Co. snooper truck (a type of crane that allows under bridge access) was recalling the crane arm from under the bridge when the truck rolled and crushed a worker who was outside the truck. The worker, William Shook of Middlefield, Connecticut, was rushed to the hospital, where he unfortunately succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. He was 43-years-old.

The truck, however, was left dangling off the side of the bridge until 4 p.m. Thursday when specialized mechanics were able to disassemble and remove the snooper truck.

Second Incident Snooper Truck Incident in Two Days

The day before the accident in West Hartford, another snooper truck operated by McClain and Co. also malfunctioned in Groton, leaving workers stranded under a bridge until rescued by the New London Fire Department. No one was injured.

Due to the closeness of the two incidents, McClain and Co. was suspended from work in the entire state.

Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation (DOT) stated that the incident in Groton was not an uncommon malfunction that was entirely different from the tragic accident in West Hartford:

“That would be a knee-jerk, irrational reaction to suspend them on the first time, for something like that,” Nursick said. “Drawing conclusions between the two is speculative … all we know is that there were two incidents, again, very different in terms of scope and consequences and potentially in terms of causes, etc.

“But, we did have, unfortunately, two incidents in two days, so it raises eyebrows, and there is no harm in the DOT, out of an overabundance of caution, temporarily suspending the use of this company,”

While Nursick does say the inspection won’t delay any inspection projects, other contractors are being brought in to complete bridge construction work.

Notes on McClain and Co.’s Safety Record

The company was established in 1998 in Culpeper, Virginia and has been operating in Connecticut for at least a decade (also with offices in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, and New Jersey).

The DMV’s commercial safety division carries out inspections for all trucks and drivers. These inspections are reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

These records show the following:

  • The company’s 105 vehicles were inspected 21 times over the past two years
  • No serious violations of safety laws were found, and the company received a satisfactory rating
  • Minor violations, such as oil and grease leaks among others, were found.
  • The company’s vehicles were found unfit for usage 42.1% of the time (double the national average)
  • In terms of vehicle maintenance, the company was ranked in the 76th percentile, which is just below the 80% threshold for federal intervention
  • For drivers’ hours and service compliance, the company came in ranked at the 60th percentile, again just below the 65% threshold for federal intervention.
  • Of the company’s 100 registered drivers, only four were found in violation of medical examination rules after 31 inspections.
  • None of these drivers have had any unsafe driving, drug or alcohol violations in the past year.

The company’s trucks were involved (which doesn’t suppose responsibility) in seven reportable accidents in the past 24 months. None of these involved fatalities. Only four resulted in injury. Three were considered “tow away.”

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