The company concerned has also been placed in a programme that will see its work closely scrutinised by OSHA inspectors.

A federal investigation determined that an overstressed 40t beam fell and caused the death of the 47-year-old labourer, who was carrying out demolition work on Chicago's Interstate 90 and Touhy Road overpass. OSHA inspectors determined the worker was standing in an aerial lift and torch-cutting the steel bracing between two beams when one of the beams fell.

The worker’s employer, Omega Demolition Corporation, has been cited for a willful safety violation for overstressing the beam during demolition. OSHA also cited the company for three serious and one other-than-serious health violations following its investigation of the early morning incident, which also injured three other workers.

The Elgin-based company has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful or repeat violations. Under the programme, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or sites if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations. Prior to this inspection, OSHA had inspected Omega Demolition 14 times since 2004 and issued citations in eight of these inspections.

"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."

OSHA has proposed penalties of $152,433 to the company, which has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.