Highway Contractors Cited in Fatal Crane Accident

Besides filing five serious and one willful violation against Lunda Construction as a result of the July 5, 2012, incident during U.S. 41 bridge construction near Oshkosh, Wis., OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA announced its Appleton, Wis. office has filed six violations, five classified as serious and one as willful, against Black River Falls, Wis.-based Lunda Construction in connection with the July 5, 2012, overturn of a crane during a multi-crane lift of bridge girders. The scene was a U.S. 41 highway bridge across Lake Butte des Mort near Oshkosh, Wis., and the crane's boom struck and killed a truck driver, Joseph Bidler, 35, of Green Bay, who worked for Spancrete, a subcontractor on the project. A Lunda Construction employee who was operating the crane was seriously hurt when he was thrown from the crane's cab as it overturned, according to OSHA.

The citations signed by Area Director Frank Winingham allege Lunda did not secure two cranes involved in the lift to the barges on which they were placed. The cranes weren't properly secured to prevent rolling, sliding, of shifting away from their proper location; they were secured to the track beams set on timbers and not to the decks of the barges, the citations state. Other violations alleged by OSHA include allowing one of the cranes to travel with a suspended load, not ensuring a lift director was designated in the lift plan, not holding a pre-lift meeting with all employees taking part in the lift, and that the lift was not directed by someone who met the criteria for being a competent and qualified person.

Proposed fines total $105,000, and the documents state that Lunda Construction must abate the violations by Feb. 19.

A lawyer at Lunda Construction's home office declined to comment Jan. 4 about the citations or whether the company intends to contest them. Lunda is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tutor Perini Corporation, according to information posted on its website.

Choice Construction Cos. Inc. in Menomonee Falls, a Lunda Construction subcontractor that provided manpower for erecting the girders, also has been cited with four serious violations and fined $13,220 for allegedly failing to develop an effective safety program, conduct competent and qualified person training, and comply with the provisions of the crane operating standards, including designating a competent lift director and conducting a multiple crane-lift planning meeting. According to OSHA, this was its third inspection involving Choice Construction, which was previously cited with two other-than-serious violations.

"Employers have a responsibility to take all necessary steps to eliminate hazards from the workplace and to ensure that workers are given the proper training to conduct required tasks, such as operating cranes and performing multiple-crane lifts," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "It is tragic that one employee lost his life and another was seriously injured during this construction project."

Lunda Construction is contesting citations issued in October for three alleged serious violations after a worker died when he was struck by a section of crane he was assembling at a construction site on U.S. 41 near De Pere. In all, Lunda Construction has been inspected by OSHA six times since 2009, according to the agency's news release.

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