Minnesota Contractor Faces $1.8 Million in OSHA Fines

Minnesota Contractor Faces $1.8 Million in OSHA Fines

Wagner Construction Inc. repeatedly exposed workers to trenching hazards.

Wagner Construction Inc. is facing $1.8 million in OSHA fines after an investigation determined the company failed to protect workers from trenching hazards for the fourth time since 2019.

According to a release dated Dec. 5, the Minnesota construction contractor committed in 2021 to enhancing safety protocols in a settlement with OSHA, including the additions of a full-time safety and compliance manager, safety training and equipment. However, inspectors identified in June 2023 unprotected trenches at a worksite in Minot, North Dakota, exposing workers to trenching hazards contradicting that agreement between Wagner Construction and OSHA.

“Wagner Construction failed to keep their promises to the U.S. government and its employees by ignoring one of the construction industry’s most lethal hazards,” OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver said in a statement. “In 2022, 39 people died while doing trenching and excavation work — the highest number in almost 20 years — making this company’s unwillingness to protect its employees truly disturbing. With the substantial increase in the number of construction projects in North Dakota and across the nation, employers like Wagner Construction must take all necessary steps to make sure employees are safe on job sites.”

OSHA has cited the company with a total of 16 repeat violations and one serious violation. This includes six instance-by-instance repeat violations for not using adequate protective systems in trenches and five similar violations for failing to provide safe entry and exit methods. Additionally, the agency noted instances where Wagner Construction did not maintain a safe distance for spoil piles from excavation edges and neglected to provide required head protection.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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