Caterpillar employee ‘immediately incinerated’ after falling into pot of molten iron, OSHA says

Excavator booms, adorned with the Caterpillar Inc. "CAT" logo are displayed at the Milton CAT...
Excavator booms, adorned with the Caterpillar Inc. "CAT" logo are displayed at the Milton CAT dealership in Londonderry, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.(Charles Krupa | AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 11:07 AM CST
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MAPLETON, Ill. (Gray News) – A Caterpillar employee was “immediately incinerated” when he fell into an 11-foot-deep pot of molten iron heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA said in a news release Wednesday that the death of the 39-year-old employee happened on June 2 at a Caterpillar foundry in central Illinois, which produces cast iron engine components.

It was only the employee’s ninth day on the job.

A federal investigation determined that, if proper safety guards had been installed, the death could have been avoided, OSHA said.

Investigators with OSHA found that the foundry regularly exposed employees to unprotected fall hazards as they worked close to deep containers of molten iron.

The employee who died was a melting specialist who was removing a sample of iron from a furnace when he fell into the melting pot.

Federal safety regulations require employers to install guardrails or covers to protect workers from falling into 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,” OSHA Area Director Christine Zortman said.

OSHA cited Caterpillar Inc. for one willful violation. The company is ordered to pay a fine of $145,027.