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GC to Pay $126K in 2 Fatal Accidents

Thursday, March 6, 2014

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A Wisconsin general contractor has agreed to pay $126,000 in federal penalties to resolve safety citations following two fatal crane accidents in mid-2012.

The fines, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are the same the agency proposed against Lunda Construction Co., of Black River Falls, WI, after the two accidents.

Both accidents occurred at job sites along U.S. Highway 41.

2 Deaths, 3 Months

On April 20, 2012, Lunda employee Raymond Ashenbrenner, 58, was struck and killed while unloading a crane at a worksite near De Pere, WI. Lunda was cited for three serious violations and fined $21,000 in that case.

Joseph Bidler Raymond Ashenbrenner

Joseph R. Bidler (left) died in the July 5 crane accident; Raymond Ashenbrenner (right) was killed on April 20. OSHA cited Lunda Construction in both cases.

On July 5, 2012, Joseph R. Bidler, 35, was killed when a crane lifting a 52-ton concrete girder collapsed during work on the $54 million Lake Butte des Morts Causeway project in Oshkosh, WI. Bidler was an 11-year employee of Spancrete, a pre-cast concrete maker working as a subcontractor on the causeway project.

The crane had been operated by Martin A. DeRidder, 33, a Lunda employee who was seriously injured in the same accident.

Spancrete was not cited in the accident, but Lunda Construction was cited for one willful and five serious violations and fined $105,000. Another subcontractor, Choice Construction Companies Inc., of Menomonee Falls, was cited for five serious violations and fined $13,220. Choice had provided manpower for erecting the girders.

After the second fatality, OSHA placed Lunda in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on what the agency calls “recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.” The program allows OSHA to inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.

Settlement Terms

The new settlement with Lunda downgrades the severity of the some of the violations and removes the contractor from OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The settlement maintains the original fines.

Highway 41 Crane Accident
Winnebago County Sheriff's Department

One worker was killed and one seriously injured in July 2012 when a crane collapsed at the Lake Butte des Morts Causeway in Oshkosh, WI.

The settlement also requires Lunda to:

  • Update its crane safety program and train all relevant employees in it;
  • Update its Critical Pick Job Safety Analysis Worksheet and related documents, and train those employees;
  • Accept third-party training on cranes and derrick lifts per CFR. 1926.1432 for all of its Heavy Highway Bridge Division management;
  • Provide additional inside training on crane safety, including daily safety huddles for three consecutive months;
  • Hire a crane expert to provide training for Lunda's Highway 41 Corridor project managment; and
  • Accept two unannounced job-site inspections within 12 months focusing on crane and lift operations.

Lunda's attorney could not be reached Wednesday (March 5) for comment.

Other Settlement

Separately, OSHA settled its case with Choice Construction in January, reducing the five violations to two and the fine to $8,000.

“If there is anything that comes out of this, it is that industry practices are being looked at across the board, and people are doing things a bit different,” Choice Construction president Brian Mitchell told Milwaukee's dailyreporter.com.

Lake Butte des Morts Causeway
Wisconsin DOT

Lunda Construction was the general contractor on the $54.1 million Lake Butte des Morts Causeway project in Oshkosh, WI. The new causeway opened to traffic in Juy 2013.

“They are trying to do things even more safely than they were.”

Previous History

Before the two fatal accidents in 2012, OSHA had cited Lunda Construction four times since 2009, resulting in the issuance of five violations, the agency reported. OSHA records also show one or more citations against Lunda each year from 2003 to 2007.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Bridges; Construction; Cranes; Fatalities; OSHA; Worker training

Comment from Robert Ruff, (3/6/2014, 8:53 AM)

This should serve as a reminder for us all how serious safety has to be for our own employees, but also the other work crews which we work with. We have to watch each other's back out there!!


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