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Death places WI contractor on Severe Violator Enforcement Program

Highway construction is one of the more dangerous of occupations. Workers on job sites are exposed to a very wide variety of potential and actual risks. They can be struck by heavy machinery, they may fall from heights on bridges and overpasses and they may be a risk of being hit by non-construction vehicles, which are often operating within mere feet of their position.

Because of the type of work done, and the equipment used, injuries are often severe, sometimes catastrophic and in the worst cases, fatal. Such a fatal "accident" occurred last year when an 18-year-old man working on a bridge project between Duluth, Minnesota and Superior Wisconsin was killed.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation, he was struck by a rough-terrain forklift while mixing concrete on the bridge project. The OSHA report found one willful workplace safety violation. This is also the third fatal accident for the contractor since 2012. OSHA has placed the contractor on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program because of the continued willful violations.

The contractor was described by the OSHA area director as having a "dismal" safety record. A lack of training, failure to inspect vehicles and operation at unsafe speeds were among the violations discovered by the investigation.

The consequence of this willful negligence is a young man is dead, his life cut off before it started. His parents have had the incomparable grief of burying a child. The company has been assessed a $105,000, which clearly is inadequate.

The failure to adhere to workplace safety rules have real, lasting consequences. Proper training and enforcement of these rules is necessary to prevent these types of tragedies.

Source:, "Death of 18-Year-Old Apprentice at Bridge Resurfacing Project Marks Company's 3rd Fatality Since 2012," March 16, 2016

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