This letter is in response to the cover page article on Thursday headlined “OSHA fines Duckels.” During the past few weeks, Duckels Construction has been in the forefront of local news, primarily in relation to the base area bid process and culminating with this latest article. Overall, I feel the reporting related to our company has been somewhat unfair and was insensitive regarding the death of Brady Meier.
Regarding the OSHA citation: In the context of OSHA’s penalty structure, the initial proposed penalties issued are relatively low ($3,500 for each violation). Had OSHA concluded that Duckels was responsible for Brady’s death, a fine of as much as $500,000 could have been imposed. The article indicated that Duckels is fighting the violations. We are simply going through the established OSHA appeal process to contest the citation. One violation concerns the use of a specific compression fitting in the pipe system that was installed. Duckels’ job is to install the piping system as directed by the project design and specifications, which are engineered, reviewed and approved by external professionals. Our pipe installers have many years of field experience, and their installation of the system is not being scrutinized. Rather, it is the design and use of this particular fitting within the system that is in question.
The article also affected me personally. Brady was not only an excellent employee and my right-hand man, but also one of my closest friends. I spoke at his memorial service. He was the nicest man I have ever known, and I miss him daily. The tone of the article seems to implicate me in my friend’s death. How do you think that makes me feel? It is tough for me to be out in public, with bold print headlines implying some responsibility for his death. I found the statements made by the attorney to be inaccurate, misleading and insensitive. As often is the case, he is trying to build a lawsuit at the expense of anyone involved. I would like to extend an apology to Brady’s friends and family if they were offended by my Dad’s comments as he was attempting to defend our company and may have come across as insensitive. Brady was loved by everyone within our company and this affects and hurts us all.
The timing of this article is questionable. The citations were issued by OSHA on April 7, yet this article was the top story printed April 22, more than two weeks later. The timing does, however, come right on the heels of the resolution of the base area bid process, which was given much attention by the paper in the past few weeks. Since April 6, five articles have been written related to that project, in which Duckels has also been represented unfairly. Several articles include accusations and innuendos implicating Duckels behavior and ethics through the process. Given its attention in the public realm, we eventually felt the need to respond with our point of view. We wrote a letter providing our side of the issues and provided a copy to the Steamboat Pilot & Today. It can be found on their website along with an associated article that was never printed in the paper. Please see: www.steamboatpilot.com/news/2010/apr/20/duckels-asks-delay-base-area-contract-action/.
In summary, I am very disappointed with the biased treatment that Duckels has experienced in the paper. I have also seen it happen to other parties, and it takes away my faith and trust in anything that I read in the paper. My family and employees live and work in the area and care about this community a great deal. We take pride in our work here and it is important for us to build high-quality infrastructure for the future generations to enjoy. We are not looking for recognition or appreciation, just to be treated fairly by our newspaper, which has the ability to tarnish our reputation.