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Bridge Inspection Field Teams are Adapting to COVID-19

April 23, 2020 09:00 AM
By: Richard Gill, District 10 Bridge Engineer

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​Social distancing has presented a few obvious challenges for bridge inspection activities. How is distancing to be accomplished when the work area for three inspectors is a 5-foot-wide bucket? Just arriving at the bridge site in vans and trucks that only have front seats presented a challenge. The ingenuity and creatively of the talented workforce, that we are all apart of, came up with strategies and protocols to get the job done – safely!

In Indiana-based District 10's situation, the bridge inspection teams drive in separate vehicles to the bridge sites and perform inspection operations together but practice social distancing and remain at least 6 feet apart from one another. Masks/face coverings are worn at all times. The inspectors return to their respective vehicles and move on to the next bridge site. Inspection documentation is compiled either at the bridge sites or retained for editing and submission through teleworking at home.

Similar practices are utilized for inspection crane operations with some additions: during inspection of the structures only one crane bucket operator is in the bucket at a time. This bucket operator is a Certified Bridge Safety Inspector and visually performs the inspection by relaying information by intercom, walkie talkie, mobile phone or simply verbal communication, if the distance is close enough, to the inspector on the ground. The crane driver and bucket operator also drive separately to the bridge sites and never come within 6 feet of one another during daily operations including setup of traffic control.

Crane Operator/Inspector Steve Cochran in bucket by himself. Operator Tim Kunselman standing on crane deck. Inspector Gordon Snyder standing under structure.

Social distancing doesn't end at the field operation. The inspection report review process begins with the online bridge system coordinator teleworking to compile information from the field inspectors into report format and entering it into the district's document routing system. Once the report is entered into the document routing system the report is distributed to everyone that must review that report. The document routing system sends each reviewer an email notification when a review is needed and the attached link will take the reviewer directly to the pdf inspection report. Once all reviewers have approved the report and all comments are addressed the report will be filed electronically and uploaded.

The department shares its sincerest appreciation for the entire bridge inspection section along with the County Maintenance, IT staff and the District Executive Staff that have supported the inspection activities during this time. 

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