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45-Ton Beam Falls onto Crew of 4

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

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Federal authorities have been called in to investigate the events that led to a 45-ton beam on Interstate 90 killing one construction worker and injuring three others in Des Plaines, IL, Tuesday (April 5).

A crew of four was reported to be working in lifts to remove bridge beams from under an old roadway lane as part of a project to rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). The 187-foot beam fell onto the workers when one of the cranes used in the process failed around 3:30 a.m., a local ABC News affiliate, ABC 7, reported

One worker, in critical condition, was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries, police said. He has been identified as Vincente Santoyo, 47, the Daily Herald indicated.

The three others had been treated for minor injuries at area hospitals and released.

The names of the injured have not been released.

The U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration has been called in to investigate.

'The Load Shifted'

According to ABC 7, the construction project is part of the $2.5 billion I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project between Elgin and I-294. The eastern portion of I-90 is being rebuilt to provide four lanes in each direction between Randall Road and I-294.

The project includes the reconstruction of I-90 bridges over local roads between Illinois Route 53 and I-294.

Judlau Contracting of Lisle, IL, is, the primary contractor on the work area where the accident occurred, according to the Herald. The four crewmembers were said to be employed by subcontractor Omega Demolition of Elgin, IL.

Crews were working overnight to remove and replace the beams used to support the bridge.

Earlier reports suggested that the workers were using cranes to move the beam across the highway, which had been closed to traffic, when the weight load shifted, causing it to fall.

Tollway Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs told the Herald that concrete and other surrounding materials had been removed and the beams were being supported by cross-braces. The workers were removing a cross brace on the beam in preparation for hooking it up with a crane.

OSHA investigators have indicated that, while cutting steel bracing between two beams in half, the load rolled off a pier support and came down on them.

OSHA said preliminary reports on the "tragic and preventable incident" suggest a strap or chain that was supposed to support the beam may have failed, the ABC affiliate said.

“It's 187 feet long, 45 tons of steel that came down," Des Plaines Police Chief Bill Kushner told NBC 5.

Kovacs said the agency does all it can to create a safe work environment. "We're cooperating with OSHA and following their lead," he said.

Early Tuesday morning, the affected lanes on the tollway in northwest suburban Chicago remained closed to traffic.

“They’re going to have to figure out how exactly to get it out of here,” Des Plaines Fire Chief Alan Wax told CBS Chicago. “Whether they can lift it out, or they need to cut it, we just don’t know at this point.”

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Cranes; Demolition; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; lift; North America; OSHA; Roads/Highways; Steel

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/6/2016, 8:40 AM)

Night work is definitely riskier. Even with illumination, harder to see what you're doing and most people are much sleepier - hard to focus.


Comment from peter gibson, (4/6/2016, 9:52 AM)

Awful.


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