OSHA finds company at fault for worker's death

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SWAINSBORO, GA (WRDW) - An investigation into the death of a worker renovating a Swainsboro student housing apartment complex has found the employer at fault.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted an investigation into the death of a 42-year-old worker who fell approximately 19 feet off scaffolding to his death. The incident happened on Sept. 20, 2013, while the man was applying stucco to a pre-existing building in Swainsboro that's housed by some East Georgia State College students.

OSHA cited Jack Smiley, conducting business as Smiley Plaster Co., for five safety violations, including a willful violation of the law.

"A worker died after the employer knowingly failed to provide a properly built scaffold system to protect employees from fall hazards," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. “Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Employers must ensure their workers are protected.”

The company was issued a willful citation for failure to provide fall protection to employees who work from scaffolding more than 10 feet high. A willful violation is issued when an employer intentionally, knowingly or voluntarily disregard requirements, or have an indifference to worker safety and health.

Because of the willful violation, the company has been placed on OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. OSHA has also proposed $57,000 in penalties.

This story has been corrected to reflect the location of the fall.

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