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Region 5 News Release: 11-787-CHI
June 13, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-4807
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Lewis Construction and
Cedar Falls Building Systems following death of worker on job site
1 worker killed, 3 injured when wall collapsed at sand plant in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued one safety citation each to Lewis Construction Inc. and Cedar Falls Building Systems Inc. for the willful violation of failing to adequately brace formwork while pouring concrete walls. Lewis Construction also received nine safety citations for serious violations. An investigation was prompted by the death of a Lewis Construction employee, and injuries to three others, when a wet concrete wall collapsed at a building site in Chippewa Falls on Dec. 20, 2010.

Lewis Construction is a concrete contractor with more than 40 employees. Cedar Falls Building Systems was the general contractor at this site.

"Lewis Construction and Cedar Falls Building Systems willfully ignored known construction safety procedures by failing to ensure adequate bracing to support recently formed concrete walls," said Mark Hysell, OSHA area director in Eau Claire. "Employers are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their workplaces and taking all precautions to ensure workers are not exposed to risks that could result in injury or death."

At the time of the wall collapse, five Lewis Construction employees were working from elevated walkways attached to the framework on both sides of the concrete form. The cast-in-place concrete wall that collapsed was 10 feet high, 28 feet long and 10 inches wide. The willful violation for which both Lewis Construction and Cedar Falls Building Systems have been cited is not adequately bracing formwork to be capable of supporting all vertical and lateral loads. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The additional citations to Lewis Construction involve allegedly failing to perform formwork inspections prior to, during and after concrete placement; removing formwork prior to ensuring adequate strength of the poured concrete; exposing workers to fall hazards of approximately 10 feet without fall protection; not fully planking scaffolding platforms; not cleating the end of scaffolding planks or ensuring they were extended a minimum of 6 inches beyond supports; using damaged scaffolding planks; and a lack of adequate access and egress to and from scaffolding platforms. The company also was cited for not protecting bulk LP tanks from vehicular traffic. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

For these latest citations, Lewis Construction faces $130,000 and Cedar Falls Building Systems $30,800 in proposed penalties. Lewis Construction was inspected by OSHA once in the last five years prior to this inspection, resulting in a serious citation. Cedar Falls Building Systems was inspected by OSHA four times in the last five years prior to this inspection, resulting in four serious citations.

OSHA has placed Lewis Construction Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Initiated in the spring of 2010, the program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Lewis Construction was placed in the program at this time because the company's willful violation involved a fatality. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov/dep/svep-directive.pdf*.

Each of the companies has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Eau Claire office at 715-832-9019. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF documents.


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