Jake Wilhelm was 55 years old when the incident occurred. He was a master welder his entire adult life. Outside of work, he took great pride in his flower garden and he loved hunting elk. Upon his death, he left behind his wife of 20 plus years, two sons, a daughter, grandchildren, brothers, a sister, and many other relatives, and friends.
Jake had no chance of surviving the fall. At least not with damaged and insufficient fall protection equipment and lack of training.
The fine levied by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration was severe, as two willful and eleven serious violations were cited. The penalties totaling $415,204, while a wake-up call for his employer, cannot bring back Jake Wilhelm.
OSHA findings: employees working at heights over 25 feet above ground without sufficient fall protection, permitting employees to use damaged fall protection equipment, failure to train employees on fall protection hazards and safety precautions, violations of safe crane operations, improper rigging of hoisted materials, exposing employees to hazards from working beneath cranes and several other issues.
It is virtually impossible to measure the impact a job site death has on families and businesses, as well as co-workers and friends of the deceased. Far from the thought of hefty fines is the stunning reality that Jake will never again walk through the front door after a day of work. Jake’s co-workers will never again enjoy his comradery.