Improving worker safety after fatal accident

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. -- The tragic accident of a concrete worker back in September has state representatives and worker associations rallying for higher safety awareness around power lines.

Michael Dieleman was smoothing concrete for his father's business, T.F.C. Construction, on Sept. 15 when his hand tool came in contact with a 7200 volt power line. The Byron Township man had 20 years of experience in the concrete business.

"I don't think he knew the lines were there. It's not something that a concrete contractor always looks for because we work on the ground," said John Dieleman, Michael's father and president of T.F.C. Construction. "He was just a nut about keeping the job clean. I mean, he was the last guy you thought that would run into that problem."

John Dieleman said MIOSHA fined his business $14,000 for the accident. But thanks to some guidance from Rep. Ken Yonker, he was able to reduce that fine to $3,500.

Now, Dieleman and Representative Yonker are trying to make power line safety a priority for all contractors and suppliers, and not just for equipment operators.

"So it really comes home as this is a real problem," said Yonker,  "Because we don't think about as a person working with hand tools that we're vulnerable to be electrocuted by these high voltage wires."

Rep. Yonker, Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Sen. Dave Hildenbrand are holding a safety seminar in Michael Dieleman's memory this Friday from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. The seminar will be held at the Ramada Plaza on Grand Rapids' southeast side. There is no cost to attend, and hot breakfast will be provided.

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