A contractor who was hit in the head by a paint can, fell off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. He was pulled to safety by rescue crews. (WJZ video)

A worker on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was seriously injured after being struck by a falling five-gallon paint bucket, shutting down the westbound lanes for about an hour while the man was rescued, officials said.

Authorities said they began getting 911 calls about the injured man at about 10:45 a.m.; the three westbound lanes were reopened by 12:45 p.m.

The agency is in the midst of a project to paint the westbound span of the bridge, and the injured man was engaged in that work when he was struck by the can, said Tamory Winfield, the spokesman. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department said the man was on a platform about 15 feet below the road and rescuers had to immobilize him and then raise him in a rescue basket.

"It was kind of being lowered down, and the initial reports are that the handle broke," Winfield said of the paint bucket.

He did not know if the worker was an MdTA employee or a contract worker, he said. The man's injuries are considered non-life-threatening, and he was alert, Winfield said. He was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, the agency said.

Maryland Transportation Authority Police will investigate the incident, the county fire department said.

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