A building collapse injured six people in Smithfield, Rhode Island early this morning. The building, which had been under construction at the time of the collapse, is property of Bryant University. The steel framework for the structure had already been installed, and the breakdown occurred when these steel beams collapsed forward. The exact cause and nature of the accident is currently under investigation at this time.
Smithfield Fire Chief Robert W. Seltzer stated in initial reports that the department had received a call from the Bryant University construction site at approximately 8:15 AM. The supervisor of the construction site had alerted authorities after the structure collapsed and trapped six workers under the steel beams. The Smithfield Fire and Police Departments both quickly responded to the call, but upon their arrival they decided to call for additional backup. Authorities responding to the scene issued a Level 1 response, which automatically dispatches 5 additional units to aid efforts at the scene of the accident.
The Smithfield Fire and Police Department were able to successfully free the six workers that had become trapped under the steel structure following the collapse. All six individuals were transported to Rhode Island Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Bryant University spokeswoman Elizabeth O’Neil issued a statement following the accident indicating that there were no students or faculty present in the area of the collapse and that the university was cooperating in the investigation. O’Neil went on to say that the accident that took place today would not have an effect on the opening day of classes which are slated to start on September 8th.
According to reports, AZ Corp. Construction Management is handling the management of this project. The company is based out of North Stonington, Connecticut and will have their safety standards investigated following the accident. It was not immediately clear what went wrong to lead to the structural collapse or if AZ Corp. Construction will face any charges in the matter. However, when contacted regarding the situation in Smithfield, a woman answering the phone for the construction company said that they were not aware of a building collapse and would not be taking any further calls about the matter.
Following the report of the accident, federal workplace agencies were informed of what happened and dispatched investigators onto the scene. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which has implemented a string of strict safety standards in the workplace, were aiding in the investigation.
The worksite where the steel structure collapsed is going to be an indoor practice facility for the University that will provide students with a four season field where they may train inside during inclement weather periods. The facility will be approximately 78,000 square feet and consisted of a 10,000 square foot steel frame. It is reportedly costing the University $75 million to complete the project, which was set to finish up in early 2016. Reports indicate that the beams in question had been erected about ten days prior to this accident. Construction accidents can be caused by any number of factors, once OSHA finishes up their investigation we should have a clearer picture as to what happened. In the meantime the injured workers are entitled to a number of benefits that are covered under Massachusetts workers compensation laws.
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