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Firm Fined $28,500 in Death of Fort Snelling Construction Worker Crushed by Backhoe

The construction worker's employer, S.M. Hentges, is appealing the OSHA citations

Three months after a construction worker in Fort Snelling State Park was crushed to death by a backhoe, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the worker's employer with two violations and $28,500 in fines. The Jordan-based construction firm S.M. Hentges is appealing the citations.

The night before Jeffery Allen Tukua died, he told his wife that he “had a bad feeling about the job” and did not want to go into work the next day, Mendota Heights Patch reported in December.

Both of S.M. Hentges' violations were classified by OSHA as "serious," which means "death or serious physical harm has resulted or would reasonably be expected to result from an employee’s exposure to a violation of a standard," according to the OSHA Workplace Inspections manual.

A $3,500 fine was given because OSHA found that some workers were not provided with life jackets despite working over or near water.

The other, larger $25,000 fine is a fatality penalty for violation of what's known as the "general duty clause," a provision dealing with wrongdoing that is not proscribed by a specific regulation.

"Say I saw you at a work site and you’re standing on a bunch of cardboard boxes, well that’s just not safe but there isn’t a specific standard that says, ‘Don’t stand on cardboard boxes,’” explains James Honerman, communications director at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

As S.M. Hentges is appealing, Minnesota OSHA's formal investigation is not finished.

The department will meet with S.M. Hentges and settle on the violation and penalty, Honerman said. More information will be disclosed upon completion of the investigation.

 

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