- The Minnesota Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Mortenson Construction and Berwald Roofing (here and here) in connection with an August 2015 U.S. Bank Stadium worker death and injury and fined the companies a total of $173,400, the Star Tribune reported.
- The agency cited Mortenson for one serious violation and fined the company $34,300, while it issued Berwald, the employer of deceased worker Jeramie Gruber, one willful and two serious violations and fined the roofing company $139,100. Both companies have contested those citations and fines, according to CBS Minnesota.
- Gruber and another worker were installing the stadium roof when both fell and began to slide down the roof. A post stopped the coworker's fall, but Gruber went through a guardrail and died after falling five stories.
A look at state and federal OSHA records immediately after the accident revealed that Berwald was cited previously for serious violations on other projects, with most of those citations related to lack of safety harnesses and guardrails. None of the reports on the U.S. Bank Stadium incident reveal whether Gruber or the injured employee were wearing safety harnesses, although one citation did state that Berwald did not use proper fall protection. The Star Tribune added that neither builder had a job site accident in the 15 years prior to the August incident.
Federal OSHA has adopted an aggressive stance regarding fall protection. Most recently, the agency cited and fined five contractors a total of $115,200 on a three-building apartment complex in Lincoln, NE, for a variety of safety hazards, with most involving fall protection violations. According to OSHA, falls are a leading cause of construction industry deaths, and they maintain that these deaths are preventable with the correct safety precautions.
Additionally, ramped up enforcement has seen employers held criminally responsible for fall-related and other worker deaths. A Brooklyn, NY, contractor was charged with manslaughter this month after one of his employees, a concrete worker, fell six stories to his death from an unprotected edge of a building. Prosecutors alleged that contractor Salvatore Schirripa did not provide proper fall protection to prevent the worker, who was walking backwards finishing concrete, from fall hazards.