OSHA investigates construction accident

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations are underway to evaluate the cause of the collapse of a 300-foot-long barn under construction, injuring five, as a part of the $80 million Texas A&M University Equine Complex Project.

Tom Hansen, senior vice president of Gamma Construction Company, said he and other company officials are working closely with federal investigators to provide information relevant to the collapse. Hansen said the investigation would be ongoing throughout the week.

The building collapsed Saturday morning, as workers were elevated in a lift 40 feet off the ground to tie beams together. Five workers, all employees of subcontractor Ramco Erectors, Inc. were injured in the collapse. Ramco Erectors could not be reached for comment.

Four of the injured workers were sent to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, while the fifth was sent to the College Station Medical Center. The Associated Press reported three of the workers at St. Joseph had been released.

A representative of the College Station Medical Center said the injured worker they received was still in their care but in stable condition. Hansen said the efforts of the first responders on the scene were commendable.

"I'm not from College Station, but I was real impressed with your people up there," he said.

At the time of collapse, Hansen said the first response of Gamma Construction company was two-fold - to ensure the well being of the injured workers and to immediately secure the site and notify the respective government entities.

"Our initial response, first off, was concern about the injured workers, to make sure they were okay," Hansen said. "Our thoughts and prayers were first with them and their families, and our first response on top of that was to secure the project, make sure those guys were taken care of and also to notify OSHA and the governing authorities and work with them in the investigation to determine what happened."

Hansen said no work would be done on the building site until the investigation is complete.

Construction on the Equine Complex began in the fall of 2012. According to a College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science press release, the complex would include an education and outreach center, along with facilities for the Texas A&M Equestrian Team, the cross country team and Parsons Mounted Calvary when completed.

"This center will be a major center of equine research, care and outreach," said University President R. Bowen Loftin. "It is an excellent example of one of the things we do best at Texas A&M: work together across academic disciplines. Non-academic units are involved as well to make the center truly one-of-a-kind."

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