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Bridge Work Not Altered Following Accident

As renovation of a Peoria bridge resumed yesterday, workers used scaffolding similar to the one that fell earlier in the week killing three ironworkers.

Despite the unknown cause of a scaffolding fall that killed three ironworkers Monday in Peoria, Ill., workers are using similar scaffolding since the renovation of the McClugage Bridge resumed yesterday.

Officials at project contractor Midwest Foundation Corp. of Tremont, Ill., told The Journal Star they trust the skill and expertise of their ironworkers to ensure safety on the site while an inquiry continues.

"They are experts," said Jack Franklin, Midwest vice president, referring to the bridge workers. "The set up the scaffolding, rig it, move it and take it down ... They know what they are doing."

"Until (federal officials) tell us that it is unsafe, we are going to continue as we have been," Franklin told the Star. "We don''t foresee any problems, but if they determine something is wrong, they will tell us ... I think they are safe."

OSHA, which is investigating the fall, said the use of scaffolding is Midwest''s call, as long as it follows federal work rules.

OSHA officials on Tuesday examined the fallen scaffold. "We haven''t had a chance to talk to the two survivors as of yet," said Peggy Zweber, OSHA area director. "We are very early in the investigation."

The inquiry could take up to six months to complete. Authorities declined to speculate on why the 30-foot-by-16-foot scaffold broke away from underneath the bridge, falling 65 feet into the Illinois River.

Autopsies conducted Tuesday determined that three of the dead drowned after falling from the bridge and into the river. Two other men survived after being thrown from the scaffold.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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