MDU Construction Services attends renewal ceremony of OSHA ET&D partnership

MDU Construction Services Group President and CEO Jeff Thiede, left, and Director of Safety, Health and Environmental RJ Pizzi, right, are pictured with Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health Douglas L. Parker in Washington, D.C.


Jeff Thiede, MDU Construction Services Group president and CEO, along with RJ Pizzi, director of safety, health and environmental, recently attended the renewal ceremony of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Electrical, Transmission & Distribution Partnership.

The ET&D Partnership is a formal collaboration of industry stakeholders working together to improve safety for workers in the electric line construction industry. It is one of only a few national partnerships between employers and OSHA.

MDU CSG, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, is a founding member of the organization that got its start in 2004.

WBI Energy employee recognized with life-saver award

Ryan Muecke, senior area representative with WBI Energy, third from right, received the Liberty Mutual Life Saver Award for his actions to help a teenage boy in an ATV accident. Pictured with Muecke, from left, are Brian Voss, WBI Energy Worland District transmission supervisor; Muecke’s wife, Christy, and children, Curtis, Charlee and Tucker; Brandon Hoehn, technical consultant with Liberty Mutual; and Mike St. Clair, WBI Energy Worland District manager.


Ryan Muecke, a senior area representative in the Worland District for WBI Energy, was heading home from work recently when his sharp observation skills and instinct to stop may have saved the life of a teenage boy.

While Muecke was driving down a county road, he spotted the tire of an all-terrain vehicle sticking up out of a ditch. He slowed as he got closer and could see hands waving from under an overturned four-wheeler.

“I pulled safely off the road as quickly as I could and ran over to find a teenage kid with his leg pinned under the four-wheeler,” Muecke said. “He was not bleeding and didn’t appear hurt, but his leg was pinned and he couldn’t get out from under the machine.”

Muecke asked the boy if it was OK for him to try rolling the four-wheeler up enough for him to try to get out from under it. When the boy said it was, Muecke was able to lift it and the teen scrambled out.

Muecke said that after making sure the boy was OK and able to walk, the teen helped Muecke push the four-wheeler back onto its wheels. Another truck pulled up at that point, and the other driver also helped push the four-wheeler out of the ditch.

Muecke noted that the accident happened because the boy had a poorly secured load on his four-wheeler — a tank sprayer for spraying weeds. When a strap holding the tank came loose, it caught the front wheel and caused the ATV to flip down the steep embankment.

“I’m glad I was there to help, and that everything turned out OK. It could have been a lot worse if that ditch had been full of water or the tank had come loose and landed on him, or if fuel from the ATV had spilled,” Muecke said. “It was a good reminder to always make sure equipment is secured properly.”

For his actions that day, Liberty Mutual honored Muecke with the Life Saver Award “for outstanding courage and humanity.”

Loy Clark employee named Hoffman GUTS Champion for identifying safety hazard, stopping work

Brett Jerome


Hoffman Construction recently honored Brett Jerome with its GUTS Champion award for actions he took at a Corvallis, Oregon, job site that likely prevented a serious injury.

Jerome, foreman fuser with Loy Clark Construction, was at Oregon State University Reser Stadium to install gas service to a new building. A different subcontractor had vacuum excavated the area around the riser so Jerome and his crew could access it.

Jerome noticed that the excavation was too close to a base plate that was part of a six-story scaffolding structure along the face of the building. He immediately notified the Hoffman Construction superintendent and said he could not let his crew work in the space. Hoffman employees quickly shored up the hole to eliminate the hazard.

Hoffman Construction Superintendent Butch Riley praised Jerome for his actions.

GUTS Award presented to Brett Jerome.

“Brett not only cared about the schedule and production of his team but put safety for his team and those around him first,” Riley wrote in an email. “It takes a special person to see a safety issue and have enough guts to say something.”

Jay Davis, contract manager supervisor with NW Natural, said in an email that he commends Jerome for leading by example. He emphasized that everyone has the right to stop work when they feel something isn’t right. Loy Clark was working as a NW Natural subcontractor at the Reser Stadium job site.

Hoffman Construction’s GUTS Champion award, which stands for Get Us There Safe, serves as a reminder to get everyone home safely. Recipients of the GUTS Champion award must be nominated, and the nomination must be approved by several project superintendents who must all agree that the nominee’s actions went above and beyond their normal job description and that their actions saved one or more people from being hurt.

Based in Tualatin, Oregon, Loy Clark Construction is part of the MDU Resources family of companies.

ESI earns elite Voluntary Protection Program recertification

ESI, Inc. was recently recertified as a Voluntary Protection Program Star Mobile Workforce contractor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA describes VPP as a model of excellence that can influence best practices industrywide. VPP Star Mobile Workforce was developed for contractors and subcontractors who move site-to-site to provide construction, maintenance and repair services.

ESI first earned VPP status in 2018.

Founded in 1966, ESI, Inc. is part of the MDU Resources family of companies. ESI, Inc. is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, with locations in Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus.

ESI, Inc. honored with industry Safety Achievement Award for outstanding injury and illness statistics

ESI, Inc., was recently honored by Builders Exchange of Central Ohio with a 2022 Safety Achievement Award for having outstanding injury and illness statistics. Builders Exchange, a commercial construction trade association, presents this award annually to acknowledge the industry’s commitment to safety in central Ohio.

To be considered for this award, the Builders Exchange member must demonstrate its commitment to safety. A panel of volunteer safety professionals reviews each applicant’s statistical data, comparing them to national standards for their industry classification. In addition, the safety judges make unannounced visits to company jobsites to ensure they are enacting safety in the field.

“Not only did ESI’s statistical safety data prove to be below the national figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but our team members also demonstrated safety within the field during an unannounced safety audit performed by a panel of volunteer safety judges,” Barry Smallwood, ESI safety director, said. “Creating and maintaining a safe place of employment truly requires a team effort.”

ESI, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, provides industry-leading construction services across Ohio and the surrounding region.

Liberty Mutual recognizes MDU Resources companies for 2021 safety achievements

Several MDU Resources Group companies were recognized by Liberty Mutual Insurance for outstanding, excellent and commendable safety performance in 2021. Liberty Mutual gives the awards to recognize ongoing, effective safety programs and initiatives that produced lower or much lower work-related injury/illness rates than industry averages.

The following companies received awards:

Gold Award
The Gold Award recognizes companies with a DART rate 80% better than industry average with a minimum of 200,000 labor hours.

  • Anchorage Sand & Gravel.
  • Desert Fire Protection.
  • ESI.
  • Knife River Construction — Northern California Stockton.
  • Knife River — North Dakota.
  • Loy Clark Construction.
  • USI Industrial Services.

Silver Award
The Silver Award recognizes companies with a DART rate 60% better than industry average with a minimum of 200,000 labor hours.

  • Knife River Materials — Northern Minnesota.


Liberty Mutual awards Commendations to companies that achieved a DART rate 50% better than industry average with no minimum labor hours.

  • Capital Electric Construction.
  • Connolly-Pacific Company.
  • Jebro.
  • Knife River — Montana/Wyoming.
  • Lone Mountain Excavation.
  • Pacific Northwest Oil.
  • Wagner-Smith Equipment.

Liberty Mutual provides workers compensation, general liability and auto liability coverages for many operations that are part of MDU Resources.

Lone Mountain wins prestigious safe digging award


Lone Mountain Excavation recently received the 2021 Silver Shovel Award from the Nevada Regional Common Ground Alliance. From left are Larry Hanson, safety director; Stefan Hoffman, president; Alex Slocum, foreman; Haley Burger, project engineer; and Darren Blitsch, foreman.


Lone Mountain Excavation & Utilities recently took home the top prize at the Nevada Regional Common Ground Alliance’s annual awards dinner. The NRCGA honors one excavation company each year with the Silver Shovel Award in recognition of excellence in safe digging.

To be eligible for the award, contractors must have had no at-fault damages to underground utilities during the previous 12 months. Nominees also undergo a 45-minute interview with the NRCGA board of directors. Lone Mountain was nominated for the award by NRCGA and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

Lone Mountain President Stefan Hoffman and Safety Director Larry Hanson fielded the board’s interview questions.

“One question was about calling in for re-marks,” Hanson said. “They asked about our process and communication to the field. We have one person who handles all 811 calls. The more hands involved, the greater chance something will get missed, so we dialed it down to one person. They liked that.”

Hanson said during the interview he and Hoffman emphasized that it’s always about the team and not the individual, and that the health and well-being of employees comes first.

Hoffman credits the entire Lone Mountain team with earning this award.

“Our team works together so well, and we take these initiatives about underground utilities so seriously,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman and Hanson shared a few company best practices that contribute to their safe digging record.

  • Slow down and think. Taking five to 10 extra minutes to plan work could prevent an accident that causes property damage or injures someone.
  • Constant education. Safe digging is constantly being talked about in the field and is drilled down from leadership to field leaders to all employees.
  • While Lone Mountain always calls 811 before digging, the company recognizes even that process has room for errors. Therefore, they spend a little extra time and money to hire a hydroexcavation or vacuum excavation contractor to open things up before they start work. This allows their crews to see exactly what they’re dealing with before they put a bucket in the ground.

Lone Mountain is a leader in the field of commercial earthwork and paving preparation for the greater Las Vegas metropolitan and surrounding areas.