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Tragedy at the Mapleton Caterpillar foundry brings $145,027 fine

Foundries are among the most dangerous places anyone could work. The Mapleton, Illinois, foundry for Caterpillar of Irving, Texas, makes cast-iron engine components. Among the potentially deadly machines at the foundry were 11-foot-deep pots of molten iron that had been heated to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Someone fell into one of those pots of molten iron last June. It was the 39-year-old employee’s ninth day on the job. They were instantly killed and incinerated.

OSHA found Caterpillar responsible. The agency investigated the tragedy, which occurred on June 2, 2022, and determined that Caterpillar had not installed safety guards or fall protection equipment as required by law. If it had, the person would not have died.

As a result of this willful violation, OSHA has proposed a fine of $145,027.

This was not the first time OSHA found problems at the foundry. OSHA found that employees at the foundry were not protected from falls into the ceramic pots of super-heated metal. This hazard is routine at the foundry.

By federal law, all employers must install guardrails and restraint systems whenever there is a risk that someone could fall into a piece of dangerous equipment.

“Caterpillar’s failure to meet its legal responsibilities to ensure the safety and health of workers leaves this worker’s family, friends and co-workers to grieve needlessly,” said OSHA’s area director. “We implore employers to review the agency specific regulations to protect workers from falls into equipment in industrial settings.”

Workers compensation is here for surviving dependents when someone dies at work

It’s almost impossible to contemplate such a tragedy, but deaths on the job are unfortunately not rare. In Illinois, workers’ compensation offers death benefits to the dependent family members of those who die while working. You do not have to prove your employer was at fault.

Those benefits include payment of the deceased employee’s medical bills, $8,000 toward funeral and burial expenses, and replacement of some of the wages the employee would have earned.

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