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Lunda settles with OSHA after deaths on Highway 41 project

Traffic passes a crane sitting in the median of U.S. 41 after an accident Friday morning killed a 58-year-old construction worker in De Pere. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Lunda Construction Co. has been fined $126,000 for a pair of deaths on the U.S. 41 job site, including a crane collapse that killed Raymond Ashenbrenner in De Pere. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

Lunda Construction Co. has agreed to pay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration $126,000 as part of a settlement over two deaths connected to the company’s work on U.S. Highway 41.

The first death occurred April 20, 2012, when a crane collapsed near De Pere. The accident killed Raymond Ashenbrenner, a Lunda employee who lived in Black River Falls and had been assembling the equipment.

OSHA fined Lunda $21,000 for the incident, claiming the Black River Falls-based company had failed to provide supervision and to train workers on safe methods of putting cranes together. Lunda agreed in its settlement to pay the entire amount and pledged to adopt new procedures for the assembly of cranes taken off of delivery trucks.

The second death occurred July 5, 2012, near Oshkosh. Crews were working on the U.S. 41 bridge over Lake Butte des Morts when a crawler crane on a barge overturned while lifting a girder, according to OSHA. Joseph Bidler, a Green Bay man employed by Waukesha-based Spancrete Inc., was killed. Spancrete was not cited.

Martin DeRidder, a Lunda employee and resident of Plymouth, was injured in the same incident after falling from the crane’s cab. OSHA cited Lunda for, among other things, letting a crawler crane move with a suspended load and failing to ensure all workers involved in the lift could communicate.

Lunda was fined $105,000 and paid the full amount in its settlement with OSHA. The company also agreed to a number of commitments, including providing training on the proper use of cranes and letting OSHA’s Appleton office conduct at least two onsite inspections.

A representative of Lunda could not immediately be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Scott Allen, regional director for public affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Chicago office, said the settlements were reached Feb. 7.

Allen also said Lunda had been removed from OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program because the company no longer met the criteria to be in the program, which was established in 2010 as a way of placing tougher sanctions on companies that repeatedly or willfully violate OSHA rules or that fail to abate violations. Businesses in the program are subject to more frequent OSHA inspections.

A second company involved in the July 5 accident also reached a settlement with OSHA. Choice Construction Cos. Inc., Menomonee Falls, initially was fined $13,230 for failing to update its accident prevention plan, failing to properly train every worker involved in the lift, and failing to designate someone to direct the lift and review a plan for the project with workers.

In an informal settlement Choice Construction reached with OSHA on Jan. 25, 2013, the company agreed to pay $8,000.

“If there is anything that comes out of this, it is that industry practices are being looked at across the board and people are doing things a bit different,” said Brian Mitchell, company president. “They are trying to do things even more safely than they were.”

About Dan Shaw, [email protected]

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 414-225-1807.

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