A federal investigation has determined that an overstressed 40-ton beam fell during demolition of the Touhy Road overpass over I-90, causing the death of Vicente Santoyo, a 47-year-old Omega Demolition employee, and injuring three additional workers.

According to OSHA, Santoyo was standing in an aerial lift cutting steel bracing between two beams supporting the highway when one of the beams collapsed on him in April.

On Oct. 3, OSHA cited Omega Demolition Corp. for one alleged willful safety violation for overstressing the beam during demolition. The agency also cited the company for three alleged serious and one alleged other-than-serious health violation following its investigation of the early morning incident on April 5.

“The fact that this incident was preventable only compounds the tragedy,” said Ken Nishiyama Atha, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. “Federal safety standards for demolition address specific procedures for preventing steel structures from being overstressed, a safety violation that directly contributed to the death of this worker.”

The agency also found Omega Demolition allegedly failed to follow OSHA standards for respiratory protection including training workers, fit testing them for the appropriate respirator, maintaining fit test records and ensuring respirators were used in compliance with its certification.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $152,433 to the Elgin, Ill.-based company and placed it in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities or jobsites if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

Prior to this inspection, OSHA has inspected Omega Demolition 14 times since 2004 and issued citations in eight of these inspections.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Atha or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.