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OSHA Levies Historic Fines Against Construction Firm after Building Collapse Kills Worker

 

On April 30, OSHA issued two new citations against Hultgren Construction. The company was renovating the former Copper Lounge building in Sioux Falls, SD when it collapsed on December 2.  The collapse of the historic building killed a construction worker and trapped an apartment resident under the wreckage for hours.
According to the OSHA citation, employees were tasked with removing two load-bearing walls but were not instructed how to install a temporary shoring system to transfer building loads. When the final segment of a load-bearing wall was removed, the building collapsed.  “The employer had employees and temporary employees engaged in the removal of a load bearing wall and piled the brick and debris in different areas of the floor without ensuring the safe carrying capacities of the floor were not exceeded,” one citation said.  The company was also cited for exposing employees to struck-by and crushing hazards and not performing an engineering survey prior to beginning demolition.

 

OSHA is proposing penalties of $101,400 for the new citations. That follows more than two dozen other citations and a $100,000 penalty issued against Hultgren Construction last week related to the construction site.  Command Center, a temporary labor agency that provided workers for the project, was also fined over $114,000 for more than a dozen citations, including failing to initiate and maintain a safety program.  The fines are among the largest ever levied in South Dakota by OSHA, according to the agency.

 

The attorney representing the family of Ethan McMahon, the 24-year-old worker killed in the collapse, said OSHA’s findings confirm the family’s belief that the collapse was avoidable. “The OSHA citations issued today confirm that this tragedy was entirely preventable and should have never happened,” attorney Vince Roche wrote.