OSHA Investigating Plant after Worker Rescued From Sand Silo

By Brian Slodysko TribLocal reporter Yesterday at 2:44 p.m.

An ambulance pulls up to the building where an employee was trapped in a sand silo. Rescuers reached him at 3:20 p.m. and he was transported to Edward Hospital in Naperville. (photo by Patricia MacMillan)

Dukane Precast, a building materials manufacturer, is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an employee became trapped in a 25 foot deep silo of sand at the company’s Naperville plant on Monday, authorities said.

On Tuesday, OSHA investigators combed over the accident scene, though preliminary findings were not released because an official said the investigation is ongoing. The agency has six months to decide if it wants to issue violations.

“I can’t really talk about what is going on right now because it is an open investigation,” said Kathy Webb, area director for OSHA’s Aurora office. “We’re investigating the cause of (the accident) first and foremost and if there were any OSHA regulations that were violated.”

While the cause of the accident remains unclear, 37-year-old supervisor William Ortiz was on a catwalk before he entered the silo and the concrete-making sands opened up, burying him to the waist, according to fire department officials and the company.

A call to 911 was made at 11:23 a.m., though Dukane spokeswoman Lissa Christman said officials for the plant, located in the in the 1800 block of High Grove Road, do not know how long Ortiz was trapped before he was noticed.

Emergency crews scaled the catwalk and secured Ortiz so he could not slip deeper into the sand, while paramedics made sure his airways stayed clear, officials said.

Workers cleared away the sand around Ortiz using two vacuum trucks from Naperville’s Department of Public Utilities, officials said. Once the sand was cleared from his waist, Ortiz was strapped into a harness, which allowed the silo to be tapped from below to free his legs. He was then hoisted from the silo, lowered to the ground and transported to Edward Hospital about 3:20 p.m., officials say. On Wednesday, hospital spokesman Keith Hartenberger said Ortiz remains in good condition.

Over the last eight years, OSHA has issued Dukane over $40,000 in violations as a result of four investigations, though the amount paid was reduced to about $16,500 after the company sought settlements, OSHA records indicate.

In November of 2004 the company was issued 21 “serious” citations, for a lack of safety guards on machines and stairways, among others. Four of the citations were later dropped, records indicate. Before Tuesday, the last investigation of the company was in 2006.

“This is a small, family-run company,” Christman said. “We want to make sure everything was done properly and make sure everyone is OK.”


Source: Chicago Tribune Local

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