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Construction firm fined for worker's death at Saints ballpark site

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A construction firm working at the site of the new St. Paul Saints ballpark has been fined more than $50,000 as a result of an accident last year that killed one of its workers, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Johnny Valek, 61, of Plymouth, was killed in September when a concrete slab at the old Gillette building in Lowertown collapsed on the cab of the backhoe Valek was operating. The building was demolished to make way for the new Saints ballpark.

Valek worked for Rachel Contracting, based in St. Michael, Minn. Minnesota OSHA investigated the accident and found three serious safety violations, and levied a $51,650 fine against the company, according to the Associated Press.

Minnesota OSHA investigates all work-related fatalities in the state.

Rachel Contracting is contesting the citations, according to the OSHA website.

Ryan Cos. is the lead contractor for the ballpark construction, and OSHA did not find any violations involving Ryan, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ryan Cos. said in a statement Wednesday, "Ryan has high safety standards and places great importance on running safe jobsites, and we respect OSHA's authority in this matter. While we are grateful to bring this part of the process to closure as progress continues on bringing a great new ballpark to the City of St. Paul, we keep Mr. Valek's family in our hearts and prayers."

Officials from Rachel Contracting did not respond to requests for comment.

The Saints’ new $63 million, 7,000-seat ballpark is scheduled to be ready for the team’s home opener in May 2015.

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