Worker's forklift death prompts $105K OSHA fine for WI contractor

Dive Brief:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Wisconsin contractor, Lunda Construction Co., for one willful and five serious safety violations and fined the company $105,000 in connection with the September 2015 death of 18-year-old Kelsey Hagenson on the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge resurfacing project near Duluth, MN.
  • OSHA investigators determined that Hagenson was mixing concrete when a forklift, driven by an employee with inadequate training and no use of his right hand, hit and killed him.
  • OSHA said that in 2012, two other workers have been killed on Lunda highway construction projects and that the agency has issued the company safety violations after nine separate inspections.

Dive Insight:

Due to its history of worker deaths and safety violations, OSHA said it has placed Lunda in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which monitors employers "who show indifference toward safety standards by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations."

Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire, WI, said in a release, "His family and friends are left with pain and grief because this man's employer failed to keep him and his co-workers safe. Lunda has a dismal safety record. 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."

OSHA said that while it was investigating Hagenson’s death, it found several violations, mostly related to vehicle and equipment operation and maintenance. Violations included no forklift-specific training, vehicle operators not trained to recognize hazards and unsafe conditions, no vehicle inspections prior to operation and reckless diving of vehicles. The agency also determined Lunda did not have adequate procedures in place in case serious injuries necessitated prompt medical attention.

In January, OSHA also added Massachusetts roofing contractor AS General Construction Inc. to the severe violator ranks for repeatedly exposing its works to fall hazards on projects from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. In its most recent investigation, OSHA issued AS two willful, seven repeat and seven serious safety citations for various fall, scaffold, personal protective equipment and fall violations. OSHA also fined the company $188,000.

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