Two Wisconsin contracting companies are accused of willfully violating federal safety standards in the death of a worker crushed by a wet concrete wall at a plant construction site.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lewis Construction Inc. and Cedar Falls Building Systems Inc. for one willful violation each—OSHA’s highest level of infraction—for allegedly failing to adequately brace formwork while pouring concrete walls. Lewis Construction, a division of CFBSI, also received nine safety citations for serious violations.
| Cedar Falls Building Systems Inc. provides a variety of concrete services.|
Lewis Construction, a concrete contractor based in Schofield, WI, was fined $130,000; Cedar Falls Building Systems, the Menomonie, WI-based general contractor on the job, was fined $30,800.
CBSI declined Wednesday to comment. Lewis Construction did not respond to a request for comment.
‘Willfully Ignored’ Safety
“Lewis Construction and Cedar Falls Building Systems willfully ignored known construction safety procedures by failing to ensure adequate bracing to support recently formed concrete walls,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA area director in Eau Claire, WI.
“Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their workplaces and taking all precautions to ensure workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death.”
The accident occurred Dec. 20, 2010, at the site of a future salt plant owned by EOG Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company.
At the time of the collapse, Kevin Kadrlik, 36, and four other Lewis Construction employees were working from elevated walkways attached to the framework on both sides of the concrete form. The cast-in-place concrete wall—10 feet high, 28 feet long and 10 inches wide—fatally pinned Kadrlik and injured three other workers.
Willful, Serious Violations
The willful violation alleges inadequate bracing formwork capable of supporting all vertical and lateral loads. A willful violation reflects either “intentional disregard” for the law or “plain indifference” to employee safety and health.
The serious citations to Lewis Construction allege:
· Failure to perform formwork inspections before, during and after concrete placement;
· Removal of formwork before ensuring adequate strength of the poured concrete;
· Exposing workers to fall hazards of approximately 10 feet without fall protection;
· Not fully planking scaffolding platforms;
· Not cleating the end of scaffolding planks or ensuring they were extended a minimum of six inches beyond supports;
· Using damaged scaffolding planks;
· Lack of adequate access and egress to and from scaffolding platforms; and
· Failure to protect liquid propane tanks from vehicular traffic.
A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA inspected Lewis Construction just once in the five years before the accident, resulting in a serious citation. OSHA inspected CFBS four times in the five years before the accident, resulting in four serious citations.
Because the willful violation resulted in a death, OSHA has placed Lewis Construction Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections of “recalcitrant employers” to ensure compliance with the law.
The companies each have 15 days each to comply, request an informal conference, or contest the findings.