Roofing company involved in fatal stadium death named for 9 serious security breaches in 5 years

MINNEAPOLIS – The subcontractor who was involved in a fatal accident at the Minnesota Vikings Stadium construction site has received nine safety violations subpoenas in the past five years, according to public records.

A Berwald Roofing Co. employee was killed Wednesday when he fell about 15 meters on the construction site of the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Another worker was injured.

Berwald, who has a $ 3.4 million contract to work on the stadium, has been cited for a number of issues, including the lack of seat belts on elevated construction sites, records from the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed.

One of the owners of Berwald Roofing, Eugene Berwald, said Thursday that the company emphasizes safety in the workplace but cannot control the actions of individual workers.

“People do stupid things. They don’t hang up their lanyards, ”said Berwald.

He didn’t know if the deceased employee, 35-year-old Jeramie Gruber from Northfield, was wearing a security strap.

Berwald said that although work on the site has resumed, his employees are grappling with the incident and will be taking the rest of the week off.

“They all know each other,” says Berwald, whose company employs around 160 people. “You are like family.”

The other worker suffered a cut in the leg that required 48 stitches and staples. He was treated in the hospital and returned home, said Berwald.

In a statement, the company said it had “a full obligation to work with investigators in determining the cause of the incident. The safety of employees has the highest priority in all of our projects. “

Mortenson Construction, the general contractor overseeing the $ 1 billion project, also said it is working with OSHA to investigate the accident.

“Our priority is to make sure we know exactly what happened and that it never happens again. A man lost his life on this project today and that should just never happen, “Mortenson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mortenson’s senior vice president John Wood said sticking to the project’s tight schedule to get the stadium open in time for the Vikings preseason in August 2016 was not his immediate priority.

“We’re not thinking about the construction schedule right now,” said Wood. “We think of these two men and their families.”

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