OSHA Fines Wisconsin Construction Company $105K

Investigation Finds Safety Violations Led To Fatal Accident Last Fall

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Federal agents are fining a Black River Falls-based construction company $105,000 after an investigation found that safety violations resulted in the injury of one worker and death of another during a bridge construction project in the Twin Ports last fall.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lunda Construction for one willful and five serious safety violations. Mark Hysell, the agency’s northwest Wisconsin region area director in Eau Claire, said the company showed indifference or intentional disregard for employee safety.

Stanley resident Kelsey Hagenson was killed in the Sept. 21 incident when a worker driving a forklift struck him as he was mixing cement.

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“An 18-year-old employee that had only been on the job for three months was killed,” said Hysell. “The employer is required to provide training to all of their employees on the types of equipment they are required to operate. In this instance, Lunda did not do that.”

Hysell said the employee operating the forklift had worked for the company for 15 years, but did not have proper training on that piece of equipment. The forklift operator also had limited use of his right hand at the time.

Lunda has 15 days to settle the case with OSHA and 30 days to pay the fine. Hysell said that the company may contest the agency’s findings, but noted that only 7 to 8 percent of cases go to court.

In the meantime, the company has been placed in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Information is sent out OSHA-wide where this company has construction sites. OSHA can and will open inspections at those additional sites as a result of the issuance of this citation,” said Hysell. “We typically wouldn’t do that unless the company was in our Severe Violator Enforcement Program.”

The agency has inspected Lunda Construction 30 times over the last five years and cited them for 12 serious violations that could result in serious injury or death.

“Every citation that is ultimately sustained by OSHA would require that the employer correct those violations,” he said.

Lunda employs about 920 workers. An attorney for the construction company did not immediately return calls for comment on Wednesday.