Lake County settles with Labor Dept. in OSHA case
On Tuesday, Lake County signed a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor and Industry after an investigation into the death of heavy-equipment operator Lee Roy Jacobson. Jacobson died in April after the excavator he was operating fell into a river near where he had been clearing ice.
The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which investigates all workplace deaths in the state, opened its investigation on May 1, one day after Jacobson's death. In July, they issued three citations with fines totaling $31,250.
According to county administrator Matt Huddleston, the citations were issued because OSHA found that the county had not provided proper personal protective equipment (a life vest) while employees were working near water and that Jacobson had not been properly trained. The main citation, carrying a hefty $25,000 fine, was issued because the equipment was being used improperly for site conditions.
"We actually contested one of the citations, and that was that he wasn't trained properly, and we appealed the amounts of all of them," Huddleston said.
In negotiations, OSHA reduced the fine for the personal protective equipment and dropped the citation for training, lowering the total fines to $27,100.
Huddleston said that in response to the accident, the county is revising its protocols and reviewing all potentially hazardous jobs to see where they can improve safety.
"We're just trying to make sure it doesn't happen again," Huddleston said.