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Worker's alliance accuses company of dangerous working conditions

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Knoxville, TN-based company is taking heat from a group that said safety problems on construction sites are costing workers their lives.

Workplace safety alliance Bridges to Justice held a press conference Friday at Legislative Plaza targeting Britton Bridge Company and its affiliate, Mountain State Contractors.

"There are plenty of people who build bridges and roads in this state and do so without killing people repetitively year-after-year," said state Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville. "That's what you see with this company."

"When you're working with rigging or suspended loads on a crane, you're never supposed to work under the suspended load," said Josh Wright of Laborer's Local Union 818.

Wright showed a picture of three people working under the load at a Britton Bridge work site.

Bridges to Justice claims Britton Bridge continues to have major safety problems even after several deaths on construction sites, including two workers who were killed in 2011 during the restoration of the Henley Street Bridge in Knoxville.

Last month, Mountain State Contractors were in charge of a crane that collapsed and crushed a car on the construction of a new Highway 109 bridge over the Cumberland River in Gallatin.

OSHA is still conducting its investigation into what caused the crane to collapse.

"What you see is almost an exact replica of the situation that cost a guy his life in the Chattanooga area on a Britton Bridge project," said Wright, motioning to another picture. "The guy was stepping from one barge to another. When he slipped and fell in, he wasn't wearing his life vest properly. Here you have a year after the death, and they're almost making the exact same mistake."

Bridges to Justice claims Britton Bridge has refused to look at their evidence. A spokesman for Britton Bridge said the company was never shown the pictures.  

"Britton Bridge has the safety of its workers as its No. 1 priority and has implemented numerous programs, including safety training, safety briefings, and safety engineers, on-site to try to assure that," said Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mohl. "Anytime someone has evidence of this, we wish they would bring it to the company as opposed to the media."

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