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OSHA Issues Maximum Citation to SD Company

Monday, May 8, 2017

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Weeks after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued $214,000 in fines and two dozen citations regarding a building collapse in South Dakota that killed one worker and trapped a resident for hours, officials cracked down again on the contractor involved.

Hultgren Construction was issued two additional “willful” citations and fined an extra $101,400 in relation to the collapse on Dec. 2, 2016.

OSHA said that, according to its investigation, the construction company had directed crews to remove two load-bearing walls but did not instruct them on how to set up temporary supports. The company also did not conduct an engineering survey prior to demolition, the agency said.


Around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 2 construction crews were working on a load-bearing wall when the building collapsed. Emily Fodness, a 22-year-old woman who was in the residence upstairs, was trapped in the rubble for hours but was brought out by rescue crews around 1:30 p.m.

The search for a second person, a construction worker, lasted until nearly 6 p.m. when crews recovered the man’s body. He was identified as 24-year-old Ethan McMahon.

The renovation project had required the removal of a nearly 90-foot-long, 38-inch-thick wall.

While the city had granted the company a limited permit for interior demolition work, they had not been issued a permit for work that extensive.

While Hultgren Construction did not have a record of previous violations with OSHA, other industry professionals had reportedly filed complaints about the company. Owner Aaron Hultgren had been publicly open about his lack of training in architecture and engineering at a forum in October.

What Now

A willful citation is the maximum level of citation OSHA can issue. It means that the company either knew that it wasn’t in compliance with safety regulations or ignored safety entirely.

Both OSHA and Hultgren Construction issued statements, to KDLT News and The Argus Leader, respectively.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that a company would put their workers in harm’s way by not following OSHA standards and regulations,” OSHA spokesperson Scott Allen said.

In the emailed statement to the Leader, Hultgren wrote: “Each step we take is with the utmost gravity and respect for everyone concerned. We at Hultgren Construction remain committed to working through the process with OSHA and all other concerned parties.”

Hultgren Construction has 15 days to contest the citations.


Tagged categories: Citations; Construction; Fatalities; OSHA; Renovation; Safety; Violations

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