An on-the-job fatality that occurred at a Chicago workplace early in the morning on April 5, 2016 was preventable, according to OSHA.
The incident occurred during demolition work on a freeway overpass. A 47-year-old worker was standing in an aerial lift and torch cutting steel bracing between the two beams when one of the beams fell, crushing him and injuring three other workers. Federal investigators determined that the 40-ton beam had been overstressed.
"Federal safety standards for demolition address specific procedures for preventing steel structures from being overstressed, a safety violation that directly contributed to the death of this worker,” said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago.
The agency cited the laborer's employer, Omega Demolition Corp., for one willful safety violation for overstressing the beam during demolition and for three serious and one other-than-serious health violations.
OSHA also found Omega Demolition failed to follow OSHA standards for respiratory protection including training workers, fit testing them for the appropriate respirator, maintaining fit test records and ensuring respirators were used in compliance with its certification.
Proposed penalties for the Elgin, Illinois-based company: $152,433. Omega has also placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or jobsites if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Prior to this inspection, OSHA had inspected Omega Demolition 14 times since 2004 and issued citations in eight of these inspections.