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.
More from Star Tribune
More From The Drive
Drivers who use the Nine Mile Creek Bridge on Hwy. 169 between Bren Road and 5th Street/Lincoln Drive on the Minnetonka-Edina border will have more time to find alternate routes.
Too cold. That's the reason the Minnesota Department of Transportation has called off a bridge demolition project that would have shut down a portion of I-94 through Maple Grove.
It's still two years out on the construction schedule, but the City of Minneapolis has preliminary plans for a big re-do of 8th Street in the downtown. On Thursday,officials will share them with the public during two open houses at the IDS Crystal Court.
Motorists who plan on using Interstate 94 in Maple Grove over the long holiday weekend will encounter a detour as the Minnesota Department of Transportation takes down 101st Avenue bridge.
Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a proclamation designating Monday as "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day." To mark the occasion, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in the downtown Minneapolis will be lit in blue Monday night.