Facility Being Built at Rhode Island University Collapses - Higher Education
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Facility Being Built at Rhode Island University Collapses

by Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press

SMITHFIELD, R.I. ― An athletic building under construction at a private university collapsed Tuesday, injuring six construction workers and leaving crumpled steel strewn across the site.

Workers were installing steel beams on a new indoor practice facility for Bryant University in Smithfield around 8:15 a.m. when the beams collapsed, university spokeswoman Elizabeth O’Neil said.

The six men are in good condition at Rhode Island Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Beth Bailey said.

Smithfield Fire Chief Robert Seltzer said the men were in various locations — on top of the structure, inside or working in cranes to move steel around — when the steel collapsed.

“Something went wrong, but we don’t know what,” he said.

None of the men became trapped in the steel or had to be extricated, he said. Some construction workers and emergency personnel milled about the site Tuesday morning, though most were inside a nearby trailer discussing the accident.

Only part of the structure had been erected. Its center beam rested among a pile of smaller steel beams, with construction equipment pinned underneath.

Federal workplace safety regulators were notified and the collapse was under investigation, Seltzer said.

O’Neil said all work at the site was paused until the investigation could be completed. No Bryant students or staff members were near the site at the time of the collapse, she added.

Some of the student-athletes were working out on campus Tuesday. Classes are scheduled to begin Sept. 8.

A/Z Corp. Construction Management of North Stonington, Connecticut, is managing the construction, O’Neil said. A company manager at the site said he couldn’t comment.

It was not clear how many people were working at the site, but all were accounted for, Seltzer said.

The 78,000-square-foot indoor practice facility is planned to include a 100-yard covered turf field. Ground was broken on the project in May, and it was due to be completed in January or February, O’Neil said. Workers started putting the beams in about 10 days ago, she said.

The university, located 12 miles outside Providence, has about 3,400 students.

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