Officials: Caterpillar Worker ‘Incinerated’ in Molten Iron Days After Starting Job
Caterpillar, the largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world, is facing a significant fine after the death of a foundry worker in Illinois that occurred in June.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claimed Wednesday the death of melting specialist Steven Dierkes was preventable, the New York Post reported Thursday.
The agency detailed the incident in its press release: On June 2, 2022, a 39-year-old employee of a Mapleton foundry fell and was immediately incinerated in an 11-foot-deep pot of molten iron heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. A federal investigation determined that, if required safety guards or fall protection had been installed, the 39-year-old employee’s ninth day on the job might not have been their last.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the foundry routinely exposed employees to unprotected fall hazards as they worked within four feet of deep ceramic containers of super-heated molten iron. The deceased worker, a melting specialist, was removing a sample of iron from a furnace when they fell into the melting pot.
OSHA cited the company for “one willful violation and proposed fines of $145,027,” the release noted.
A similar instance occurred this year when it was discovered that a man missing for several months in South Carolina evidently fell into a shredding machine while working at an industrial facility and died, Breitbart News reported in July.
“The man had been working on top of the machine when he vanished, in a very noisy area of the plant,” the article said.
Meanwhile, Dierkes’ death was the second at the foundry over a six-month period. A man named Scott Adams fell to his death in December, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.
“Adams is believed to have fallen over 20 feet through a hole in the floor, OSHA said,” the outlet stated.
Per the agency’s news release, Caterpillar has 15 business days to comply, request a conference with the agency’s area director, or contest the findings.
A Caterpillar spokeswoman told the Post the company was “deeply saddened” by the recent death.
“The safety of our employees, contractors and visitors is our top priority at all Caterpillar locations around the world,” she continued, adding that the company will continue talks with OSHA “to seek an appropriate resolution to its review.”