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Stadium Worker Death Spurs Fines

Friday, June 17, 2016

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Minnesota workplace health and safety regulators have levied fines against the contractor and a subcontractor who helped build the new professional football stadium in Minneapolis.

The fines stem from the falling death of Jeramie Gruber, 35, at the U.S. Bank Stadium project on Aug. 26, 2015. Gruber and another worker had been working on the roof of the new stadium when the incident occurred.

Screenshot via GoFundMe

Jeramie Gruber, 35, died Aug. 26, 2015, after falling 50 feet at the site of the new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. Nearly 150 people donated to a GoFundMe account set up for Gruber's widow following the incident.

In its description of the tragic event, Minnesota workplace safety officials wrote: “While installing a solid roof, two roofers fell and slid down the roof. One struck a post and stopped, but was injured. The other broke through a guardrail and fell onto an elevated platform below.”

Gruber fell about 50 feet, reports relate.  

Citations Issued

Following a state-run OSHA investigation, Mortenson Construction and subcontractor Berwald Roofing were cited and fined a total of $173,400.

The majority of the fines were levied against Berwald, Gruber’s employer, for willfully failing to have workers use proper fall protection, the regulators allege. Berwald, of North St. Paul, was hit with one willful and two serious violations, carrying $139,100 in proposed fines.

According to reports, Berwald has been the subject of OSHA safety inspections in the recent past. The roofing and sheet metal company has been cited nine times in six inspections since 2010, The Star Tribune reported.

By Tony Webster / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The $1 billion stadium is scheduled to open this fall.

Mortenson, headquartered in Minneapolis, faces one serious violation of general safety and health provisions, carrying a $34,300 proposed fine. Mortenson is a global construction firm behind many well-known projects.

Both companies are contesting the findings, according to the agency’s database.

Companies Contest

Berwald Roofing President Eugene Berwald said his company is cooperating with OSHA “to reach a final determination on its findings.”

John Wood, Mortenson’s senior vice president, said that Mortenson “continues to work with OSHA regarding a final determination relative to its citation.”

“We were and remain deeply saddened by this terrible accident and understand how devastating it has been for all those affected by it, especially the families involved,” Wood said, noting that the company considers safety “a core value” on its projects.

Gruber was described as a “fun-loving outdoorsman,” on a GoFundMe account set up to assist his wife, Amy, with the financial burden. The campaign hit the $10,000 goal in nine months, with 144 people donating.

The $1 billion stadium, the new home of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, is scheduled to open this fall.


Tagged categories: Citations; Construction; Fall protection; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations; Stadiums/Sports Facilities

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