U explains accident prevention, policies

Construction companies often offer safety plans when bidding on a project.

Branden Peterson

Construction on Nicholson Hall was stopped Friday in respect for the worker who fell to his death there Thursday.

Construction accidents of that nature are rare, and preventing them is the responsibility of contractors, University officials said.

Robin Sutter, 52, of Lakeville, Minn., died in the accident Thursday. Details of the incident have not been released.

Workers should be back on the job site today, said Lori-Anne Williams, University Services communications director.

University officials said avoiding accidents is a significant concern, so construction companies often offer planned safety procedures when trying to get a bid on a project.

Mike Denny, University Capital Planning and Project Management director of development services, said this accident will not force the University to look further into the construction company.

McGough Construction Co. received the bid to complete the Nicholson Hall project. The company subcontracted the work to Amerect Inc., a construction company based out of Newport, Minn.

Denny said it has been many years, if ever, since an accident similar to this has happened with either construction company. That fact is “very impressive,” he said.

“My hunch is that it’s just one of those freak things,” Denny said. “Everyone here is very credible, and that’s something that we only deal with.”

University officials said they don’t closely monitor private companies’ projects for safety once they begin.

As soon as a contract is signed for a project, it’s the company’s obligation, and University officials must sign in and put on hard hats when they want to see a project, Denny said.

“When they come in on a site, it’s really their site, and they control it,” he said.

Peter Taubenberger, Amerect Inc. president, said he refused to comment, pending the results of an investigation into the accident by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Officials said the planned safety procedures on the project would likely be available in the company bid, but the document was not available Friday.

The Nicholson Hall renovation project is estimated to cost $24 million, and construction should be finished next fall.