Worker dies after falling through hole in floor. It could have been prevented, feds say

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A 50-year-old man was working as a journeyman electrician in Illinois when he fatally fell 24 feet down a hole in the floor, authorities say.

His death could have been prevented, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The worker was at Caterpillar’s Mapleton foundry to evaluate a proposed project on Dec. 23 when he fell and died of related injuries, according to a June 27 news release.

An investigation into his death found that “project lead contractor Illinois Crane Inc. of Peoria asked Tegco Inc. – doing business as Schaefer Electric of Peoria – to provide a bid to move an electrical junction box as part of a skip hoist construction project.”

While the electrician was evaluating the potential work, authorities say he was not protected from falls.

“Our investigation found that the use of required fall protection could have prevented this tragedy,” OSHA Area Director Barry Salerno, in Peoria, said in a statement. “Falls are one of the leading causes of serious injuries and deaths in the construction industry, and too often employees work at heights greater than 6 feet without fall safety equipment. Employers are legally obligated to follow safety standards and protect workers.”

Illinois Crane did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on June 28, and Tegco could not be reached.

OSHA cited Illinois Crane after investigators found the company did not protect workers who walked and worked on surfaces more than 6 feet above the lower level. Officials say the contractor did not ensure personal fall arrest systems, adequate floor hole covers and guardrail systems were used.

Illinois Crane faces $87,016 in proposed penalties.

Schaefer Electric, operating under Tegco, was cited for failing to inspect job sites and train workers on how to recognize fall hazards and take precautions that minimize danger. The contractor faces $10,151 in penalties.

The contractors have 15 business days from when they were notified of the citations to either comply, request a meeting with OSHA or contest the findings.

In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 24 workers died by “falls, slips, or trips” in Illinois. That same year, 135 workers died of occupational injuries.

Mapleton, of Peoria County, is about 80 miles north of Springfield.

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