Though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is just beginning to investigate how a tragic construction accident on Interstate 90 occurred, the agency is already saying the incident could have been prevented. The collapse of a 45-ton beam killed a 47-year-old Illinois man, and caused minor injury to three other workers.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the victim was part of a demolition crew removing the beam underneath the portion of I-90 known as the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway when the beam collapsed. The reason is not currently known, but an OSHA spokesman said the agency suspects “a strap or chain supporting the beam may have failed.”
The beam, which was 180 feet long and weighed 45 tons, landed on the street below, severely injuring the man. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
The accident happened around 3 a.m.; later that same morning, OSHA’s local area director said his office was already investigating. He called the incident “preventable,” and the OSHA spokesman agreed. “Every incident such as this is preventable if all OSHA standards and regulation are followed,” the spokesman said.
The Tribune article provides few details about the victim. An official with his union local said the victim worked construction in the Chicago area for more than 20 years. He said the victim was a hard worker who always showed up early for work.
Construction work can be made reasonably safe, if the contractor follows safety rules. When they don’t, lives are often at unacceptable risk.