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OSHA launches investigation into worker's death at Fraser Shipyards

Preliminary information indicates Randall Charles Mulvaney, 64, of Watertown, Wisconsin, was standing on rail to pull a tarp when he fell to his death.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death of a worker that happened Monday at Fraser Shipyards.
2017 File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation with C & L Contracting in connection with the death of a worker Monday, Dec. 5, at Fraser Shipyards.

The incident occurred around 11:50 a.m. Monday.

A 64-year-old man from Watertown, Wisconsin, was found dead at Fraser Shipyards after reportedly falling off a ship in dry dock.

“Preliminary information is that an employee was standing on a railing in order to pull a tarp, and he slipped and fell, landing in the dry dock area,” said Scott Allen, regional director for public affairs and media relations with the U.S. Department of Labor.

It appeared the man, Randall Charles Mulvaney, was working to secure a tarp to a railing going around the deck, said Superior Public Information Officer Bradley Jago. Officials believe Mulvaney fell off the deck of the ship through a section where there was no railing.

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Lifesaving efforts were made, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release issued Monday by the police department.

While the incident remains under investigation pending the results of an autopsy, officials do not suspect this was “anything other than a tragic accident,” the news release stated.

Allen said OSHA will not have any further information until its investigation is complete — by law, the agency has six months to finish.

C & L Contracting of Gillett, Wisconsin, declined to comment at this time. Staff at Fraser Shipyards said the company would not be commenting on the incident.

Monday's fatal accident is the second in five years at the Superior-based shipyard. Welder Joseph Burch died of sepsis after he was burned in a workplace incident aboard the docked freighter Roger Blough in 2017. OSHA concluded that Burch was wearing frayed coveralls and not provided with fire-retardant gear as he washed old welds using an oxygen-acetylene torch in a cargo hold.

OSHA records show that Fraser Shipyards was fined more than $4,800 in May for a violation relating to "Guarding of deck openings and edges."

This story was updated at 10:08 a.m. Dec. 8, with additional information from the Superior Police Department, OSHA and C & L Contracting. It originally posted at 4:54 p.m. Dec. 6.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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