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Construction site accident brings steep OSHA fines

Few, if any, work environments are as potentially dangerous as a construction site. Workers, technicians, drivers, and foreman alike are often surrounded with equipment and exposure to heat, electricity, and heights-any of which could lead to a serious injury or potential death if things go wrong. This risk is only exacerbated if managers and employers in charge of a construction site show negligence or willful disregard for safety.

Just to the north of Chicago, two construction companies have been fined by OSHA for numerous safety violations which resulted in the crane-related death of a 35-year-old Green Bay man and the serious injury of another. Wisconsin-based companies Lunda Construction and Choice Construction were fined $105,000 and $13,220 respectively for the incident.

Charges came related to the fatal construction accident that took place last July included allowing a crane to travel with a suspended load, failing to train competent and qualified persons on their roles, not adequately attaching the crane to the barge, failing to use appropriate signaling methods, and failing to meet the requirements of a critical lift plan.

The accident happened on the Butte des Morts bridge near Sheboygan. The Green Bay man had been driving a truck when his vehicle was struck by the crane's boom and overturned. The boom at the time was loaded and elevated with 52-ton bridge girders. Another man sustained serious injuries after being ejected from the crane's cab and onto a nearby barge.

Lunda Construction was placed on OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, an initiative started in 2011 with an aim to better oversee "recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations. Lunda will be subject to stiffer fines in the future, as well as an increased frequency in surprise inspections.

Although OSHA sanctions and federal fines may deter a construction company from breaking safety regulations in the future, they offer victims and their families little recompense for the life-altering damages they may have experienced. Fortunately, the help of a personal injury and wrongful death attorney can prepare a strong case for financial restitution and damage compensation. Getting in touch with an attorney and exploring legal options is always a good idea following any workplace accident.

Source: Sheboygan Press, "OSHA issues fines for Butte des Morts bridge fatality," Nick Penzenstadler, Jan. 3, 2013

Employers' consistent dismissal standards can put a worker at great personal risk. For more information on how to take action, visit our Illinois workers compensation law page.

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