An Elgin-based company has been fined $152,000 in the death of worker who was killed by a falling 45-ton beam at a construction site on the Jane Addams Tollway in April.
The U.S. Department of Labor‘s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Omega Demolition Corp. earlier this month for “over-stressing” the beam during demolition of an Interstate 90 bridge near Touhy Avenue in Des Plaines, according to a statement from the agency. Vicente Santoyo, a 47-year-old Omega Demolition employee from Berwyn, was standing in an aerial lift cutting steel bracing between two beams supporting the highway when one of the beams collapsed on him, according to the statement from OSHA.
OSHA fined the company $152,433 and issued citations for safety and health violations. A spokesperson for the agency, Scott Allen, said OSHA representatives are due to meet with Omega Demolition executives next week to discuss the agency’s determination. At that time, he said, Omega representatives will either indicate they intend to abide by the findings and pay the penalties or contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA’s regional administrator in Chicago, called the incident “preventable” in the statement. “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,” he said.
Omega Demolition representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Illinois Tollway issued a statement that it will “take whatever actions are appropriate” after reviewing OSHA’s full report on the incident.
The Tollway removed Omega Demolition, a subcontractor for bridge project, from all Tollway projects and forbade them from doing any other work for the agency after the April incident, the statement reads. The manager for the general contractor for the project, Judlau Contracting, and an engineer supervisor were also removed from all Tollway projects, and the agency said alternative contractors were hired to finish the bridge demolition and construction work.
“The Tollway offers its deepest sympathies for the families and loved ones of the worker killed in this tragic incident, as well to his co-workers who were injured,” the statement reads.
Omega Demolition has been cited nine times by OSHA since 2006 mainly in connection with lead hazards, and the company has paid violations and penalties to the agency totaling $6,465.
OSHA has placed Omega Demolition in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which allows the agency to inspect the company’s facilities and construction sites if they believe violations are present, according to the statement. The program “focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations,” the statement reads.
Shortly after Santoyo’s death, Adolfo Zamora, secretary-treasurer of Laborers Local 225 union, described Santoyo as “a great guy, a hard worker.”
An official with the union said Santoyo had spent more than two decades working in construction in the Chicago area.
Lee V. Gaines is a freelance reporter.