OSHA says a Sioux Falls construction did not do enough to protect its employees before the Copper Lounge building collapse. In the ten page report, OSHA says Hultgren Construction “willfully” ignored safety rules.
That is the highest violation OSHA hands out. The company now faces more than $100,000 in new fines.
When the Copper Lounge building collapsed in December, it trapped a woman for hours and killed construction worker Ethan McMahon. OSHA’s new report focuses on what Hultgren Construction did not do to prevent the destruction, which ultimately led to McMahon’s death.
There are two violations. The first one states Hultgren Construction did not show employees how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, nor how to eliminate potential hazards. This exposed employees to so-called “crushing hazards.” This violation also focuses on two load-bearing walls between the Copper Lounge building and part of the old Skelly’s next door. OSHA says Hultgren Construction instructed employees to tear down the two exterior load-bearing walls, but did not show them how to do it safely and properly shore up the buildings to prevent a collapse.
The second violation indicates there wasn’t a completed engineering survey before the demolition work.
OSHA says it would have prevented an unplanned collapse.
An attorney for Ethan McMahon’s family says the OSHA citations confirm this tragedy was “entirely preventable.” In an email statement, their attorney also says Ethan’s family and loved ones continue to grieve his loss.
Hultgren Construction president, Aaron Hultgren, is also responding the citations. In a statement, he says, “Each step we take is with the utmost gravity and respect for everyone concerned. We at Hultgren Construction remain committed to working through the process with OSHA and all other concerned parties.”
Hultgren Construction has 15 days to contest the citations. A spokesperson for OSHA says the case is still considered open until the company agrees to resolve the violations and pay the proposed penalties. The spokesperson says this is the last set of citations for the case.
This is the second time in a week OSHA issued fines related to the building collapse. OSHA found 25 different violations against Hultgren Construction racking up nearly $100,000 in fines. OSHA also fined temp agency Command Center Incorporated more than $114,000 for violations. These fines stemmed from not having proper safety equipment, training and other issues.