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OSHA: $105K for Fatal Bridge Accident

Friday, March 18, 2016

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Federal authorities are citing the main contractor on a northwest Wisconsin bridge rehabilitation and resurfacing project after an 18-year-old apprentice died from injuries after being struck by a forklift.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lunda Construction of Black River Falls, WI, for one willful and five serious safety violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $105,000.

The citations stem from the Sept. 21, 2015, death of Kelsey Hagenson, who was mixing concrete for the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge resurfacing project when a rough-terrain forklift struck and killed him.

Bong Bridge
WisDOT

The citations stem from the Sept. 21, 2015, death of Kelsey Hagenson, who was mixing concrete for the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge resurfacing project when a rough-terrain forklift struck and killed him.

At the time, the medical examiner said Hagenson died from “multiple blunt force injuries due to a pedestrian-forklift mishap.” Neither he nor another worker injured in the accident was operating the forklift at the time.

"This young man was fresh out of high school with a lifetime ahead of him," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "His family and friends are left with pain and grief because this man's employer failed to keep him and his co-workers safe."

OSHA Investigation

Among the serious violations logged by the agency, OSHA said its investigators found the highway construction company had allowed an employee to operate a forklift even though he had a physical restriction specifying no use of his right hand.

Federal investigators also found several violations of powered industrial vehicle standards, which requires employers to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. The alleged violations include:

  • Workers lacked training to recognize hazards and unsafe conditions while operating vehicles;
  • Vehicles were not inspected prior to being placed in service; and
  • Workers drove vehicles at unsafe speeds and too close to employees standing in front of fixed objects.

The agency also documented that the company failed to include plans for prompt medical attention in case of serious injury prior to starting the project.

Each serious violation carries a proposed penalty of $7,000, for a total of $35,000.

Additionally, OSHA cited Lunda for one willful violation in its investigation, alleging that employees operating the rough terrain powered industrial vehicle did not receive training for the type of vehicle they were authorized to operate. This citation comes with a $70,000 penalty.

Bong Bridge
By Greenmnm69 / CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

Among the serious violations logged by the agency, OSHA noted the highway construction company had allowed an employee to operate a forklift even though he had a physical restriction specifying no use of his right hand.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA Record

According to OSHA, it has issued safety violations to Lunda in nine different inspections since 2011. The company was also inspected in 2012, after two workers died on U.S. Route 41 construction sites managed by Lunda near De Pere and Oshkosh.

In that case, Lunda paid $21,000 in fines for three serious violations, according to the inspection data report.

“Lunda has a dismal safety record,” Hysell noted. “OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect Lunda sites until the company does the right thing and makes worker safety a priority on its job sites."

The agency has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program that focuses resources on employers who show indifference toward safety standards by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.

A call for comment placed with Lunda's attorney was not immediately returned Thursday (March 17).

Bridge Project

The Bong Bridge carries U.S. Route 2 across the Saint Louis Bay from Superior, WI, to Minnesota just south of Duluth.

The project included overlaying the existing bridge deck and making repairs to the sidewalk; replacing and repairing arch components and recoating them; replacing existing expansion joints and repainting grinder ends; and replacing street lights and ship navigation lanes.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Cement; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Roads/Highways

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