Worker Falls to his Death at Detroit's Ford Field.

A painter working 150 feet in the air on a hydraulic crane at Detroit's Ford Field, new home of the Detroit Lions football field, was killed yesterday morning when the crane tipped over and he fell to the ground. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is investigating.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, painter John Gojcaj, a 45-year-old father of five who worked for Thomarios Painting, of Akron, Ohio, tumbled to the ground. Employees, who rushed to the scene, were sent home for the day.

Inspectors from MIOSHA are expected to take a close look at the lift to determine if it malfunctioned and to examine the company's fall protection equipment and training.

At the beginning of the month, MIOSHA inspected the jobsite and issued two serious citations to Thomarios for failing to have adequate fall protection for painters performing touch-ups on structural steel 150 feet above the stadium floor and for violating regulations related to scaffolding safety. The company was fined $1,750. It is not known at this time if Gojcaj's fall was related to either of those violations.

Until yesterday, there had been three accidents - one of which involved an injury - logged at the site, which has been under construction for two years and involves hundreds of workers.

"We are very confident that this is a safe work environment," said Tom Lewand, vice president of stadium development for Ford Field, who added, "Our thoughts and prayers of everyone at Ford Field, the Detroit Lions, every man and woman working on this job are with the family of that gentleman. We are in the process of conducting a full investigation with the Detroit Police Department and OSHA."

A call to Thomarios Painting was directed to Paul Thomarios, who did not respond.

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