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Fatal Wisconsin road construction work accident

About 150 miles due east of La Crosse is Lake Butte des Morts, a favorite recreation spot for fishers and boaters. Unfortunately, it's also the spot where a 35-year-old road construction worker was killed in a work accident late last week when a crane collapsed on a bridge on U.S. Highway 41.

The crane was holding a 52-ton concrete girder when it gave way around nine in the morning on Thursday. The crane operator, 33, sustained serious injuries in the crane collapse. He was taken to a nearby medical facility.

The fatal accident happened when two cranes on barges were lifting the 104,000-pound girder for the Butte des Morts bridge and one crane buckled and collapsed.

It was the second fatality that has occurred this year involving cranes working on U.S. 41.

A 58-year-old Black River Falls man was killed in April while he was unloading a crane in Brown County. Both of the crane accidents involved cranes operated by Lunda Construction of Black River Falls.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation of the two fatal accidents.

"Ultimately, the employer is responsible for ensuring its workers are safe and abiding by all work rules," an OSHA spokesperson said.

Wisconsin's Department of Transportation is also apparently investigating the tragedies.

Lunda Construction has been cited by OSHA for safety violations five times in the past three years, according to a media source. In August of 2009, a worker was injured when unstable bridge pilings collapsed on the same Butte des Morts bridge on U.S. 41.

The company was at that time fined $2,500.

Source: Appleton Post-Crescent, "Fatal crane accident site on U.S. 41 near Oshkosh reopened," Adam Rodewald and Jessica Opoien, July 6, 2012

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