Alaska Agency Fines Contractor $280,000 in Fatality Case

Contractor North Country Services and its owner, Mark Welty, failed to conduct the required engineering survey to determine the state of the wall and whether it could collapse during the work, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's investigators concluded, and Welty failed to make sure it was braced or stabilized "despite clear indications the wall was damaged."

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development fined a contractor $280,000 this week in a case stemming from the death of a worker who was crushed by a falling retaining wall. The worker, Nicholson Tinker, 24, died Sept. 30, 2016, in the wall's collapse as he was preparing the wall for demolition, the agency reported Feb. 7.

Contractor North Country Services and its owner, Mark Welty, failed to conduct the required engineering survey to determine the state of the wall and whether it could collapse during the work, the agency's investigators concluded, and Welty failed to make sure it was braced or stabilized "despite clear indications the wall was damaged."

Welty also had misclassified his employees as independent contractors in order to evade responsibility for safety requirements and to avoid paying unemployment insurance, taxes, and workers' compensation premiums, the agency found. "This tragic case illustrates the toll that misclassification can take on workers," said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. "If Nicholson Tinker had been afforded the protections he deserved as an employee, he would be alive today."

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