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OSHA proposes fines against Caterpillar after worker fell into molten iron

Steven Dierkes of Peoria died instantly after falling into a crucible back in June.
Credit: AP
FILE - This May 8, 2019 photo shows a Caterpillar 279D Compact Track Loader, left, and 308E2 CR Mini Hydraulic Excavator, right, rear, at a demolition site in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar says it's packing up its headquarters from its longtime home state of Illinois and heading to Texas. Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday, June 14, 2022, that it's transferring its global base to Irving, Texas, from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MAPLETON, Ill. — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday, Nov. 9 proposed fines of $145,027 against Caterpillar Inc. for not installing a guardrail or travel restraint at a foundry outside Peoria where a worker fell into molten iron in June.

Steven Dierkes, 39, of Peoria, died instantly after falling into a crucible at the Mapleton foundry, the Peoria County coroner said. The foundry manufactures cast iron engine components, the Journal Star reported.

The OSHA investigation found “the foundry routinely exposed employees to unprotected fall hazards" while they worked within 4 feet (1.2 meters) of containers of molten iron.

Caterpillar has 15 business days penalties to comply, request a conference or contest the findings.

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“We will continue to engage with OSHA to seek an appropriate resolution to its review.” Caterpillar spokeswoman Lisa Miller said.

Dierkes’ death was the second to occur at the Mapleton foundry in six months. Last December, Scott Adams of East Peoria fell to his death. Adams is believed to have fallen over 20 feet through a hole in the floor, OSHA said.

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