The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Highway Technologies, Inc. more than $448,000 and cited the firm with 10 safety violations that led to the death of a Wisconsin highway worker on Interstate 94.
Joseph Janisch, of Ellsworth, Wis., was electrocuted on Sept. 17, 2012 when equipment he was using while installing signs and guardrail for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation near Menomonie contacted overhead power lines.
He was an employee of the Minneapolis branch of Highway Technologies, which is based in Houston and has offices in 12 states, including three in Minnesota.
OSHA said the six of the 10 violations were “willful violations” and that the company failed to ensure that equipment being operated was not with 10 feet of a power line, exposed workers to electrical shock and electrocution hazards. OSHA also said the company failed to ensure the equipment remained at least six feet from a power line when it traveled underneath them.
“Highway Technologies failed to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards,” said David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant Secretary of Labor.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Since 2007, Highway Technologies has been inspected 10 times by OSHA and cited for nine violations. As a result of the latest findings, OSHA has placed Highway Technologies in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program targeting employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations requires follow-up inspections to ensure future compliance with the law.
The company has 15 days to respond to the citations or contest the findings.
From Around the Web
More from Star Tribune
More from The Drive
A Wisconsin man who said he just wanted to race the State Trooper he encountered on a northern Minnesota interstate is in now in jail.
It's batter up Thursday for the St. Paul Saints who open the 2015 season at their new home, CHS Field in downtown St. Paul's Lowertown district.
We've all heard the admonitions about not texting while driving, the safety risks notwithstanding, but here's another reason not to: Your fellow motorists despise you.
A five-mile stretch of I-94 between downtown St. Paul and the Midway will be closed to allow MnDOT to remove the Snelling Avenue bridge deck.
It looks like it will be a fine morning for a bike ride, and that's good since today Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and a number of Minneapolis City Council members will lead group rides Friday as part of Bike to Work Day.