TEA, SD (KELO) — City of Tea leaders say they are surprised by steep fines OSHA wants to impose on a Sioux Falls construction company for alleged safety violations on road construction projects. OSHA is seeking fines of more than $200,000 against H&W Contracting, saying the company had employees working in unprotected trenches on projects in Tea and Salem. But the city administrator of Tea says H&W Contracting has been a good partner on several projects for the city.
Orange cones are a fast growing road marker in the town of Tea.
“Now with road projects, sewer extensions, annexations, everything has been crazy over the last two years,” said Kevin Nissen, administrator of Tea Planning & Zoning.
But there can be risks to rapid growth. OSHA says the company, H&W Contracting, put its workers at risk by attaching a 6-inch water pipe to a fire hydrant from inside a trench that was unpropped by the property.
“And I’m sure the employee went, it’s just no big deal, take me 5 minutes to fix this and jumped in the hole,” Tea City Administrator Dan Zulkosky said.
Tea town administrator says he was ‘shocked’ by the alleged safety breaches against H&W Contracting because he says the company has done a ‘remarkable’ job for the town in the past, and would hire the company again for future projects.
Tea City officials say OSHA violations may reflect a need for additional training of construction crews by the company.
“I think there’s a lot to do to make sure their employees are trained, know the rules, and follow them,” Nissen said.
Tea City executives say they plan to emphasize safety during weekly meetings with project managers in the future.
“Hey, you also have to follow OSHA regulations, we don’t want to hurt anyone,” Zulkosky said.
The Tea town administrator also says it has been difficult to hire contractors to complete projects for the town. He says they are lucky to only receive two or three bids, even for the smallest projects.
We contacted H&W Contracting. They told us they had no comment on security breaches.