Little information is available about what caused a steel structure to collapse Tuesday morning at Bryant University. But officials at Rhode Island Hospital say six workers transported there were all in good condition.
The incident, which Bryant officials call a "serious construction site accident" occurred at the site of a new indoor sports facility located at the back of the university's North Smithfield campus.
University officials say workers were in the process of erecting the steel structure for the building when it collapsed forward.
Rick Femino from Bryant’s Athletic Facilities department says he witnessed the structure collapsing on at least a dozen workers.
“So I ran in to help those guys, and we just talked them through. You know, 'you’re going to be alright.' The guys that were conscious at least," said Femino. "And the unconscious ones, EMS came up right away and took care of them.”
Six workers were injured, although apparently none of the injuries were serious.
Femino described the shell of the building, comprised of a steel skeleton, collapsing on itself like dominoes – each successive beam taking another down along with construction equipment, causing a loud sound of crushing metal, and leaving behind a twisted jumble of metal and debris.
The construction management company overseeing the project is A/Z Corporation out of North Stonington, Connecticut. OSHA has now taken over the site to begin an investigation.
Roy Coulombe, business agent for Local 37 of the Ironworkers Union, told RIPR that the ironworkers on the job were "100 percent non-union.'' Building trades union officials and many construction industry executives say that union jobs are safer than non-union jobs because workers are better trained on safety issues.
Bryant says no students or staff were near the construction site when the accident occurred. The university is cooperating with authorities and does not expect the collapse to affect the start of the new semester on September 8.
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