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WI Bridge Worker Killed; Crane Death is Firm’s 2nd

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Federal authorities are investigating the second worker death since April involving a crane operated by a Wisconsin contractor.

 crane collapse

 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Reader submitted

One worker was killed and another one seriously injured Thursday when a crane collapsed at the Butte des Morts bridge while lifting a beam.

Both fatalities involved cranes used on U.S. Highway 41 projects by Lunda Construction Co., a heavy highway construction contractor based in Black River Falls, WI. The first accident killed a Lunda employee; the second, a subcontractor’s employee.

Crane Collapse

The most recent incident claimed the life of Joseph R. Bidler, 35, of Green Bay. He was killed about 9 a.m. Thursday (July 5) when a crane lifting a 52-ton concrete girder collapsed during work on the Lake Butte des Morts Causeway in Oshkosh, WI.

Bidler had worked 11 years for Spancrete, a pre-cast concrete manufacturer based in Waukesha. Reports said Bidler was a driver for the company.

The crane was operated by Martin A. DeRidder, 33, an employee of Lunda Construction. DeRidder, of Plymouth, WI, was seriously injured in the accident and was taken to an area hospital. His condition was not released, in keeping with his family’s wishes.

Spancrete is working as a subcontractor for Lunda on the causeway project.

‘Tragic Event’

Construction on the project was suspended for a day while inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on the scene.

 Lake Butte des Morts Causeway

 WisDOT

The $54 million Lake Butte des Morts Causeway project in Oshkosh, WI, will widen the current bridge (left) to eight lanes (rendering, right).

Details of the accident were unavailable, pending OSHA’s investigation, which is likely to take several months to complete. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating.

Neither Lunda nor Spancrete commented on the accident.

“This is a tragic event, and WisDOT is keeping the employee’s families in our thoughts and prayers,” the Wisconsin Department of Transportation said in a statement.

2nd Fatality

The fatality was the second in less than three months for Lunda Construction.

Raymond Ashenbrenner, 58, a Lunda employee from Black River Falls, was killed April 20 while unloading a crane in a work area just south of Scheuring Road in Brown County.

Both projects involved work on U.S. Highway 41.

Lunda Construction could be placed in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program if citations are issued in response to both crane fatalities, OSHA spokeswoman Rhonda Burke told the Oshkosh Northwestern.

"Ultimately, the employer is responsible for ensuring its workers are safe and abiding by all work rules,” she said. “Even if they’re subcontracting, if you’re employing the individual, you have a responsibility for making sure they’re following the health and safety precautions."

OSHA Records

Lunda Construction job sites have been inspected by OSHA 14 times in the last five years, including four times in 2011 and three times before the April fatality this year, according to OSHA records. Citations were issued on four occasions. The family-run company was founded in 1938.

Spancrete, founded in 1946, is a third-generation, family-owned, global enterprise that provides precast systems for the transportation, parking, institutional and other sectors. The company has been inspected by OSHA eight times in five years. Citations were issued on five occasions.

Lunda is the general contractor on the $54 million project to upgrade the causeway, which opened in 1955. WisDOT is building a new, eight-lane crossing by widening the existing structure to the west.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Construction; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Roads/Highways

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