An 18-year-old man lost his life just three months after starting work for Lunda Construction Company. The carpenter's apprentice was mixing concrete for the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge resurfacing project when a rough-terrain forklift struck and killed him. The bridge spans St. Louis Bay between Superior and Duluth, Minnesota. Since 2012, three workers have died while working on Lunda highway construction projects.

U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators found the highway construction company allowed an employee to operate a forklift even though he had a physical restriction specifying no use of his right hand and lacked adequate training.

OSHA cited Lunda for one willful and five serious safety violations on March 14 after its investigation into the Sept. 21, 2015, death. The company has also been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program that focuses resources on employers who show indifference toward safety standards by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.

"A lifetime ahead of him"

"This young man was fresh out of high school with a lifetime ahead of him," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "His family and friends are left with pain and grief because this man's employer failed to keep him and his co-workers safe. Lunda has a dismal safety record. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect Lunda sites until the company does the right thing and makes worker safety a priority on its job sites."

While investigating the recent fatality, federal investigators found several violations of powered industrial vehicle standards including:

  • Workers had no specific training on a rough-terrain forklift.
  • Workers lacked training to recognize hazards and unsafe conditions while operating vehicles.
  • Vehicles were not inspected prior to being placed in service.
  • Workers drove vehicles at unsafe speeds and too close to employees standing in front of fixed objects.

No provisions for an injury accident

The agency also found the company failed to include plans for prompt medical attention in case of serious injury prior to starting the project.

Proposed penalties total $105,000. View citations here*.

In 2012, two workers died on U.S. Route 41 construction sites managed by Lunda near De Pere and Oshkosh. Since 2011, OSHA has issued safety violations to Lunda in nine different inspections.

The Black River Falls-based Lunda employs about 920 workers.