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Painter Killed in Fall from Water Tower

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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DAMIANSVILLE, IL—A 31-year-old painter has died after falling 100 feet from the top of a water tower about 30 miles southeast of St. Louis, MO.

Dustin L. Spilman, of Ventura, IA, was working for Elgin, IA-based Central Tank Coatings Inc. to paint a water tower in the 500-person village of Damiansville, IL, in Clinton County when he fell Monday (April 27).

Spilman was painting the top of the tower while two other workers were on the ground, Clinton County Coroner Phillip Moss said, according to media reports. 

Central Tank Coatings did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday (April 28).

No Info on Safety Harness

"Apparently, this gentleman was working his way to the top (of the water tower) to finish his area for the day," Moss told the Belleville News Democrat.

Damiansville IL water tower
Screen shot via Google Maps Street View

Dustin Spilman, 31, died after falling about 100 feet from the top of a water tower he was painting in Damiansville, IL. He was working for Central Tank Coatings of Elgin, IA.

One worker, who was on the ground to ensure a rope and the hose feeding the paint didn't get tangled, looked up when he heard Spilman scream and saw him falling, Moss said.

The crew was starting on the second week of a two-week, $36,000 paint job.

Spilman was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and was pronounced dead at 2:29 p.m., about 35 minutes after the initial 911 call.

One of the two other workers had just started with Central Tank Coatings that week, officials told A woman and her husband also stopped and helped with CPR, the website reported.

Moss told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had no information regarding whether a safety harness was being used or what could have caused the fall. 

An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.

Investigation Underway

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Clinton County Sheriff's Office said it would not be releasing information to the media about the case.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

The company has had one previous OSHA inspection, according to the agency's records. The planned inspection took place in Clearwater, MN, in 2009. One serious violation, cited for "general duty clause and workplace safety programs," was marked as a closed case with no penalty within two months.

Another case from the same inspection tallied nine violations, eight serious and one "other," resulting in a $1,050 penalty (reduced from $6,000). Serious citations were issued for hazards regarding lead, sanitation, and employee right-to-know training requirements. That case was marked closed in 2011, according to OSHA records.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health & Safety; North America; OSHA; Painters; Tower; Water Tanks

Comment from Tommy Manley, (4/29/2015, 9:40 AM)

It truly saddens me to see this type of tragedy because the tank painting industry is where I have built my career, my heart go's out to his family and friends. Under my direct supervision I would have never had one of my men working alone painting the top of this tank while two men were on the ground.

Comment from Car F., (4/29/2015, 12:57 PM)

Similarly Mr. Manley, in my crew this man would be alive because he would it had a safety harness, lifeline tied to an approved anchoring point, training, supervision and an emergency rescue plan. Sacrificing a worker’s life for an extra buck is unethical, immoral, reprehensive and it should be considered a crime. Sadly, this type of transgression is not considered a criminal act: it is consider the cost of doing business.

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