Originally created 08/14/97

One killed, three injured in wall collapse



A construction worker at University Hospital was killed and three others were injured Wednesday when a concrete wall form collapsed after supporting cables snapped.

Robert Bergamy, 35, of Augusta died at the Medical College of Georgia trauma center about noon Wednesday. He died of crushing injuries to the chest, Richmond County Deputy Coroner Grover Tuten said.

Beers Construction officials would not release the names or hometowns of the three injured workers, but said all three were from out of town. One of the injured was admitted to University Hospital and was listed in good condition. A third worker was still being evaluated at the hospital Wednesday night and the fourth was treated and released.

The four worked for a subcontractor of Beers, but Beers' Group Vice President Barry Snell wouldn't identify the subcontractor.

The company had not determined why the cable and bolts suspending the wall form snapped, causing it to fall about 25 feet, Mr. Snell said. The wall form, into which concrete is poured, was being used to build a stairwell for the hospital's $18.8 million Women's Center.

Construction stopped Wednesday at the site, where Beers employs about 50 workers, Mr. Snell said. Beers' in-house safety department is working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to determine the cause, he said.

"A thorough investigation is under way and will be ongoing until an exact cause of the accident is determined," he said.

When an accident in the workplace involves a fatality or three or more injuries, an employer is required to file a report with OSHA, said Ray Finney, area director of the Atlanta East Office.

A compliance officer was sent to Augusta on Wednesday to begin the investigation. Construction will not resume at the work site until OSHA authorizes it, said Chris Naylor, public affairs coordinator for University Hospital.

"The purpose of the investigation is to determine the cause, prevent recurrences and to see if there were any violations of OSHA standards," Mr. Finney said. "The employer may be responsible for citations or monetary damages. The investigation is usually pretty intense and involved."

It may take 30 to 60 days to complete a report of the findings, he said.

Wednesday's accident was the first since construction began on the expansion in April. The construction company is responsible for safety at the work site, Mr. Naylor said.