OSHA fines Duckels in Steamboat death

Construction company will fight citation related to Brady Meier’s death



Courtesy photo

Chester Brady Meier

— Duckels Construction plans to fight two serious violations and fines of $7,000 relating to the death of worker Brady Meier.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation detailing the violations April 9.

The first states that Duckels did not install an irrigation system in a safe manner.

The second violation states that Duckels did not adequately train its employees about the hazards of pressurized pipes.

“We’re going to appeal” to OSHA, Duckels owner Fred Duckels said Wednesday. “There has been a whole lot of speculation about the whole process, but we feel it’s nothing but speculation.”

A search of OSHA records dating to 1972 showed that Duckels has no previous violations. OSHA would not elaborate on the citation because the case is still open.

“It just confirms that the tragic death of this young man should never of occurred,” said Michael S. Burg, an Englewood attorney representing Meier’s widow.

The Routt County coroner ruled and reaffirmed Wednesday that the Hayden man was killed by a blast of compressed air that entered his ear, burst his eardrum and caused a brain hemorrhage. He was working near the base of Steamboat Ski Area on Oct. 9 in a small utility vault when the compression fitting on a 2-inch copper pipe burst off. Meier was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Investigators initially thought the compression fitting from the pipe hit Meier, but the autopsy ruled that Meier was killed by the compressed air that had built up in the pipe.

The OSHA report concluded that the 3.5-pound compression fitting that burst off the pipe was not designed for use above ground with compressed air. There was also no restraining device in place.

Duckels contends that his workers installed and used the piping correctly.

“We just do what is engineered and drawn up,” Duckels said. “We go with the plans.”

Duckels also is not convinced that the blast of compressed air is what killed Meier.

“It’s an air blast,” Duckels said. “Why didn’t it knock his hard hat off? Why didn’t it knock his glasses off?”

In regard to the citation involving employee training, OSHA concluded that employees were not trained to select and install compression fittings. They also were not trained to empty air from the pipe before pressuring the pipe with water, the citation stated.

Duckels said his workers who installed the a pipe were part of pipe crew with years of experience. They were not licensed plumbers, but that certification was not necessary for the exterior work, he said.

Duckels insisted that the fitting was installed correctly and that there are still unanswered questions.

“I just don’t know,” he said. “I’d love to know the reason, and there are going to be a lot of people that speculate for monetary reasons.”

With Duckels’ appeal, OSHA will forward the case to an administrative law judge.

Burg, attorney with the Burg Simpson law firm, last month put members of the Steamboat Springs City Council on notice that they could be named as defendants in a future wrongful death lawsuit. Burg said Wednesday that no lawsuit has been filed and he could not speculate on what businesses or people would be included in a lawsuit. Base area redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum said Wenk Associates, a Denver-based landscape architecture firm, designed the project.

Burg contends that his construction experts have confirmed the project was designed, engineered and constructed poorly.

“We’re proceeding with the natural course to make sure we’re looking at everything before we file a complaint,” Burg said.

Duckels will soon resume work on public improvement projects at the base area. On Tuesday, the City Council reaffirmed a $4.5 million contract for the company to build a promenade and daylight part of Burgess Creek.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com


Fred Duckels 7 years ago

A conviction in the media is almost as good as one in the courts. I thought the Pilot had learned it's lesson with the Feldman case years ago.


Fred Duckels 7 years ago

This comes on the tail end of the 10 year old blog that ran for about a month presenting a negative story. A meeting was held and this problem was addressed and solved, unfortunately the Pilot did not attend this meeting, or maybe they did. After a month of bid rigging allegations this story loses its impetus if I am not going to jail. Stay tuned, also read our response under the Base Area delay article and there is more to come. Open season is over. There will be an investigation on the bid rigging scandal but I'm sure it will be smoothed over if I am not found involved. be sure to read our above mentioned response.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

i guess i'm just waiting to hear/read some form of remorse or sadness, fred...and since this ol' newspaper didn't print those thoughts...this may be a good of a place as any to let the rest of the public know your at least sorry this happened. P.S.~ REALLY distasteful to belittle someone's death with other political bullsh*t you have going in your world...sickning.


Routt_County_Guy 7 years ago

I agree with you 100%, oldskoolstmbt. I see no remorse in any of Fred's comments, but instead they are about how all the professionals are wrong - "Why is everyone picking on me?" I do not know of Fred's medical expertise but I will believe a non-partisan coroner's conclusions over his opinion. Even though OSHA shows Fred's safety record to be clear, anyone who has been in this area remembers the 2002 "dynamite blunder", in which tragedy was narrowly averted. Therefore, I will believe OSHA's investigation rather than Fred's opinion.
I also feel extremely bad about Mr. Meier's untimely death, and whether it is my tax dollars that have to pay if the town of Steamboat is found to be at fault, or Duckels' insurance (which thankfully is mandated by the government), or whether it will come out of Fred's own pocket, the Meier family deserves monetary compensation for their great loss.
Fred, you have dodged a lot bullets in the past, and the court systems have been very lenient on you. My advice to you is, quit feeling so sorry for yourself and show more sympathy for the Meier family,


barkingschedule 7 years ago

The life of the young widow of Mr. Meier will be forever changed. Your insensitivity to this fact, Mr. Duckels, is reprehensible. By the way, "it's" is a contraction which means "it is." It's not that hard.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

well said routt county guy~ the 'safety record' does not appear to be accurate...hmmmm, do i smell some 'good 'ol boy' past appeals?

"we just go with the plans"...genius.


stillinsteamboat 7 years ago

Fred's comments show no compassion or remorse for the loss of a husband, son, not a statistic. What was Brady, collateral damage, just the price you pay to do business?


Fred Duckels 7 years ago

This seems rather strange that all the blogs come from anonymous sources. My telephone number is listed and feel free to call. Brady was probably my son's best friend and I think he hoped that they could retire together. Our company is much like family and most have been with us for decades despite the fact that we can't compete with govertnment or large companies for benefits. The most dreaded thought for any employer is to lose an employee. This is always on my mind and in my prayers. The above article was prepared by a reporter and confidential items were intermingled with on record comments. I described why I could not comment and it seems that he came up with a good story. It seems that some would like to brand our family as ruthless rascals. My grandaughter is in first grade and you could put up banners at her school to warn others. When I was young I would raise a box of chicks every year for a hobby. When one chick got injured or had a blemish all the other chicks would chase and peck the unfortunate one to death. It seemed rather cruel,I don't know why. Steamboat is a small town and my life is an open book, I wouldn't have it any other way. I sleep better this way. Okay have at it, let's see who can get in the last word. Brady was a shining beacon in the construction industry where most of are pretty drab characters and he left us with a spark that we will not soon forget.


sledneck 7 years ago

Fred is a whipping boy for many of you who hate development, capitalism and truth. He has the balls to put his name and reputation on his every word. Thats more than most of us. Taking shots at him on something like this shows you peoples' true colors.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

thank you fred, your last sentence is what i've been waiting for... sledneck~ 'he has the balls to put his name &reputation on his every word'..maybe that's why he SHOULDN"T have blogged on this article...i hope the meier family doesn't read the paper online to see fred's insensitive remarks...


kathy foos 7 years ago

Fred, I agree that the old blog was very strange.And why did it stay on so long?Wierd.


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