No life-threatening injuries after structure collapse at Bryant University

Police said the victims fell about 30 feet and were underneath the structure when rescue crews arrived.

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Construction crews and emergency officials Tuesday afternoon remained on the site of a structure collapse at Bryant University.

A steel structure, which will eventually be an indoor practice facility, came tumbling down shortly after 8 a.m.

“[Workers] just started construction on it. They were erecting steel. Something happened at the site and the steel structure that was in place fell over,” Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer said at a news conference Tuesday morning. “We’re not sure why that happened. It’s under investigation at this time.”

The Victims

Some of the workers were at the top of the 30-foot structure at the time of the accident. The metal beams came down on top of them and in total, six workers were hurt.

Officials said all of them needed help getting out, and some of them were trapped underneath the structure. One worker had to be cut out of his harness.

Officials said all of the victims were conscious at the scene and there were no head injuries. None of the six victims have life threatening injuries.

When the structure collapsed, Seltzer said issued a Level One response – meaning they were able to call upon five additional rescue vehicles.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Captain Jonathan Polak of the Smithfield Fire Department. “Not noted any head injuries, a couple complaining of back pain, couple had some lower leg injuries, but nothing that seeming like it was life threatening.”

A spokesperson at Rhode Island Hospital said all six victims are in good condition. Four have been released from the hospital, officials said. The other two are expected to be okay.

The Investigation

Eyewitness News has learned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) dispatched two inspectors to the scene around 8:30 a.m.

Spokesman Ted Fitzgerald said the inspection will seek to determine if there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with the incident.

Bryant University Spokeswoman Liz O’Neil said the practice facility is one of several projects currently underway on campus and that AZ Corporation, based out of Stonington, Connecticut, was overseeing the project.

A check of OSHA records indicate there have been no major safety violations with the management company within the last five years.

AZ Corporation has done work for the Rhode Island Department of Administration and – in addition to the Bryant site – is currently managing an Electric Boat construction project in Quonset.

O’Neil initially named a different construction company in the news conference. However, she later provided clarification after the Boston-based company told Eyewitness News it was not managing the site in question.

The Facility

O’Neil said when complete, the facility will be 120 yards of covered turf field. Sports that will eventually use the facility include lacrosse, and field hockey, as well as club and intramural sports.

O’Neil said crews broke ground in May and the building was scheduled to be completed in January 2016.

During the news conference, O’Neil said Bryant plants to move forward with the project, pending the findings of an investigation into the incident.

Classes are not yet in session at Bryant University, but are scheduled to begin on September 8. School officials said only athletes and international students are on campus, and none of them were injured.

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