1 worker dead, 1 seriously injured in roof fall at new Vikings stadium

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One roof worker was killed and a second worker is in serious condition after a fall at the new Minnesota Vikings stadium construction site, Mortenson Construction confirmed Wednesday.

The family of the deceased victim identified him as 35-year-old Jeramie Gruber.

Mortenson senior vice president John Wood said the two workers with Berwald Roofing, a subcontractor, were doing roof work on the north side of U.S. Bank Stadium at about 7:45 a.m. Wood told reporters at a news conference that the worker who died fell 50 feet off the edge of the roof on the north side of the stadium and landed in a snow gutter. He was pronounced dead upon arrival Hennepin County Medical Center. 

"A man lost his life on the project today and that should never happen," Wood said.

All work was halted on Wednesday, but Wood said he hopes to resume construction on Thursday. Grief counselors will be made available to all construction workers. Wood would not confirm if the tragedy would significantly delay work on the new stadium, and said all efforts are focused on the workers at this time.

View photos of the rescue scene at http://www.fox9.com/sports/vikings/12095596-gallery

Minneapolis Fire Department crews rescued one worker who fell into a crevice on the roof using a rescue blanket, ropes and cables. Before that worker was brought down, they had loaded a second victim into an ambulance to be transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.

At about 8:30 a.m., crews had stabilized the worker roof and began bringing him down to be brought to HCMC. Crews began to clear the scene at about 8:40. Mortenson said they could not confirm if the workers were wearing harnesses.

The $1 billion stadium is slated to open in fall of 2016.

Mortenson Construction statement

"Today at approximately 7:45 a.m. on the U.S. Bank Stadium construction site, two workers from Berwald Roofing were injured when they fell while performing roofing work on the north side of the building. The two workers immediately received medical attention on site and were transported to a local hospital. One of the workers died from his injuries and the second worker is in serious condition.

All work on the project has been stopped."

Minnesota Vikings statement

"Today is an extremely sad day for the Minnesota Vikings organization and the entire stadium team. Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the individual who passed away, the worker who remains hospitalized, and the more than 1,000 dedicated construction workers who are on the site every day and are also affected by this accident."

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer statement

"It's a sad day for us here with the Vikings and our prayers and thoughts go out to their families."

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges statement

"Today we in Minneapolis grieve for the loss of the worker who lost his life in a tragic accident. I know that, like me, the people of Minneapolis send their sympathies, prayers, and thoughts to his family and friends in this terrible time. I hope they have what they need to grieve well. We also send our wishes for a thorough and speedy recovery to the other worker who was injured today; our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as well."

Berwald Roofing Company statement

On Wednesday morning at approximately 7:45 a.m. there was an incident involving two employees of Berwald Roofing working on the new U.S. Bank Stadium roof. One is currently in the hospital in stable condition, the other unfortunately passed away due to his injuries.

It is a sad affair when a tragedy like this occurs on any construction project. An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the incident. Our employees' safety is the most important aspect on all of our projects.

The entire staff of Berwald Roofing is like a large family. Today's events have caused great sadness to everyone in our company's family. We all extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family and friends of the two employees involved in the incident. We also thank the emergency responders for their brace rescue efforts today.

Eugene Berwald, President
Ken Berwald, Vice President

Berwald Roofing inspections

Minnesota OSHA officials said falls account for the most workplace fatality investigations. According to state OSHA records, Berwald Roofing has recorded 9  "serious" citations since 2010, but it is a big roofing company and is inspected frequently.

Berwald Roofing Company Inc.

Inspection number 317807477; Aug. 7, 2014; programmed/planned (routine)

Two citations, both serious
1. Direct access to scaffold platform was more than 14" away horizontally. ($1,050)
2. Each employee on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level was not protected from falling to that lower level by either:  a personal fall-arrest system meeting the requirements; or a guardrail system installed along all open sides and ends of platforms, meeting the requirements. ($1,050)

Inspection number 317332906; Oct. 2, 2013; programmed/planned (routine)

One citation, serious
1. Each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs, with unprotected sides and edges six-feet or more above lower levels was not protected with fall protection. ($1,650)

Inspection number 317304038; Sept. 4, 2013; programmed/planned (routine)

Three citations, all serious
1. A fire extinguisher, rated not less than 2A, was not provided for each 3,000 square feet of the protected building area, or major faction thereof. ($800)
2. Each employee in a hoist area was not protected from falling six feet or more to lower levels by guardrail systems or personal fall-arrest systems. ($2,200)
3. Parts of the equipment, load line or load (including rigging and lifting accessories) were allowed below a power line where the employer had not confirmed that the utility owner/operator had de-energized and (at the worksite) visibly grounded the power line. ($2,200)

Inspection number 316695501; Sept. 25, 2012; programmed/planned (routine)

One citation, serious
1. Each employee engaged in roofing activities on low-slope roofs, with unprotected sides and edges six feet or more above lower levels was not protected with fall prevention. ($900)

Inspection number 316607399; July 20, 2012; programmed/planned (routine)

One citation, serious
1. Each employee on a steep roof with unprotected sides and edges six feet of more above lower levels was not protected from falling by guardrail systems with toeboards, safety net systems or personal fall-arrest systems. ($1,650)

Inspection number 315148981; Dec. 14, 2010; programmed/planned (routine)

One citation, serious
1. Each employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge that was six feet or more above a lower level was not protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall-arrest systems. ($1,050)
 

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