OSHA fines SD contractor additional $101K in fatal building collapse
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued two additional "willful" citations to a South Dakota contractor and fined it an extra $101,400 in relation to a building collapse that killed a worker in December 2016, according to the Argus Leader.
- The agency said Hultgren Construction directed crews to remove two load-bearing walls prior to the collapse of the Copper Lounge building but did not instruct them on how to set up adequate temporary supports.
- OSHA also alleged that Hultgren never conducted an engineering survey prior to demolition.
Last month, OSHA issued multiple violations and approximately $214,000 in fines to Hultgren and labor staffing company Command Center for failing to train their workers in safety procedures and not providing sufficient personal protective equipment. The agency also said the companies did not prevent workers from using scaffolding and ladders in an unsafe manner. Command Center said it would appeal the citations and its $114,000 portion of the fine.
A willful citation indicates OSHA's belief that Hultgren either knew it was not in compliance with legal requirements or simply ignored employee safety. It is the maximum level of citation OSHA can issue and carries penalties 10 times greater than its next category of violation.
This case is similar to the 2013 Salvation Army building collapse in Philadelphia. A demolition subcontractor working on a building next door to the nonprofit's thrift store removed supports before demolition operations began, and a wall collapsed, killing six people who were in the store and injuring 14 others.
OSHA fined the two contractors involved in demolition operations almost $400,000, and they were also sentenced to prison. The Salvation Army and other project officials were found liable in a civil trial. After the incident, the city of Philadelphia reviewed and updated its demolition contracting and permitting policies and procedures.
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