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Minnesota construction company fined for serious OSHA violation

Everyone in Minnesota expects some level of safety in their workplace. While some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, Workers at least expect that their employers are following state and federal standards for maintaining a safe workplace -- and rightfully so. When an employer fails to offer employees a safe workplace, it is only a matter of time before a worker suffers a serious injury.

Unfortunately, that seems to have been exactly what happened in November when a 19-year-old worker was injured while constructing a bridge in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

In order to build a bridge, construction crews often have to create cofferdams, which are water-tight structures built into the river. The water is pumped out so that construction can be carried out at the bottom of the river. The 19-year-old was working above a cofferdam, when he fell into it -- a nearly 45-foot drop. He suffered life-threatening injuries.

Recently, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded its investigation of the construction company overseeing the worksite. Investigators found Ames Construction to be in serious violation of at least one safety rule -- ensuring that workers are protected from falls by some sort of safety device. The company has been fined $7,000 for the oversight.

While it is good that this construction company has been fined for its oversight, which will hopefully lead to better safety measures, it is unfortunate that the problem was discovered after this young worker was seriously injured. While nothing can reverse a workplace accident like this one, it is important that all workers know that they have the right to seek compensation from an employer if they are injured on the job.

Workers' compensation can provide an injured employee with the financial support necessary to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other damages related to the accident. Because not all employers are willing to provide workers' compensation without putting up a fight, it is often useful to work with an attorney who can help ensure that you get the compensation you need.

Source: LaCrosse Tribune, "Company fined $7,000 for I-90 bridge fall," Anne Jungen, April 10, 2014

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