A construction worker escaped serious injury Thursday when he and the small loader he was operating in a mill building in Sanford fell through the first floor into the basement.

Ryan Laflamme, 29, of Auburn was moving materials with a skid steer around 10 a.m. when he and the machine fell about 18 feet through the floor of the mill building, which is being redeveloped.

Sanford Assistant Fire Chief Steve Benotti said that soon after the accident Laflamme was walking around in some pain but had no apparent serious injuries.

He was taken to Goodall Hospital in Sanford for evaluation and was released later Thursday, said Kristen Hill, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

An investigator from the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s Augusta office planned to visit the site Thursday or today to determine whether the accident could have been prevented, said Karen Billups, assistant area director for OSHA.

Benchmark Construction of Westbrook is the general contractor for the project to renovate the building on Washington Street into apartments and commercial space.

Sanford Code Enforcement Officer Jamie Cole said the town issued a permit about a month ago for the construction company to replace of the building’s roof. The rehabilitation of the interior is scheduled to start in the spring, he said.

Cole said he spoke with the supervisor of the construction site, who told him that the construction crew was taking the rest of Thursday off. Cole did not know when their work would continue. David McLellan, the project manager from Benchmark, did not return phone calls Thursday.

The town of Sanford recently sold the three-story building, the cornerstone of the former Goodall Textile Mill complex, to Northland Enterprises of Portland for $198,000.

The renovation project received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.

The plan is to convert the first floor of the 66,500-square-foot structure into commercial space and the rest into 36 apartments. The building is expected to be ready for tenants in early 2013.

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