Wanzek Fined In Relation To Crane Worker’s Death

OSHA Levies Fine On Wanzek
OSHA Levies Fine On Wanzek

After an investigation, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has levied a fine and issued a violation to a wind turbine construction company in connection with an accident last May which claimed the life of a crane operator.
On Wednesday, OSHA proposed a fine of $7,000 for Wanzek Construction, general contractor for construction of Invenergy’s 73.5 MW Prairie Breeze II wind energy farm near Elgin.
Back in May, 40-year-old crane operator Thomas L. Bales was operating a 90-ton rough-terrain crane down a county road southeast of Elgin when the crane slipped into a ditch and overturned, pinning him. Rescue personnel from Elgin and Petersburg rushed to the scene to lend aid but there was little they could do. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bales was employed by Tradesman International and was working for Wanzek Construction at the time of the accident.
The construction company, based out of West Fargo, was given one serious safety violation for exposing workers to struck-by hazards. The worker was not wearing a safety restraint as a crane slipped into a ditch and overturned. He was crushed as it rolled off an embankment, according to OSHA Omaha acting area director Darwin Craig.
“At the beginning of each shift, construction vehicles in use must be inspected to ensure that they are in safe operating condition. This includes ensuring that vehicle restraint systems are in place and utilized by employees to ensure their safety when operating the vehicles,” said Craig. “Crushing and struck-by hazards are still one of the leading causes of construction-related incidents resulting in fatalities in the industry.”
According to reports, Arnold Jelinek, vice president at Wanzek Construction, a North Dakota company, said the company is reviewing the citation.
“The victim had only worked for Wanzek Construction for 10 days,” Craig said months ago. “These incidents are preventable regardless of how long an employee works for a company. Even though temporary workers may only work on a jobsite a few days, weeks or months, employers still have a responsibility to train all employees permanent and temporary about the hazards to which they are exposed,” Craig said in May.
This isn’t the first time Wanzek has been cited by OSHA. Wanzek, according to OSHA, has previously been cited in response to a workplace fatality in January 2011 when an employee was pinned between a semi-trailer and a pickup truck. The employer received one serious citation for not adequately training employees to identify large vehicles on the construction site which presented a struck-by hazard. The case was resolved and the employer paid a penalty of $6,300.